SCOOBA – East Mississippi Community College dropped a pair of tight decisions to visiting East Central Community College Tuesday night during MACJC basketball action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The EMCC women let a halftime lead slip away in falling, 72-69, while the Lions also came up just short, 82-80, in the men's nightcap on the Scooba campus.
In the women's opener, the Lions turned a seven-point, first-quarter deficit into a seven-point halftime lead by outscoring ECCC, 20-9, during second-quarter action. Late in the half, EMCC sophomore Anissia May drilled a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down and followed by banking in another made field goal to put the home team on top, 41-34, heading into the break.
After the Lions extended their lead to nine points to begin the second stanza, the visitors chipped away at the deficit by outscoring EMCC, 27-21, during the third quarter. Robrieka Finn's buzzer-beating 3-pointer reclaimed the slight advantage (62-61) for the Lions heading into the final period.
The Lady Warriors took control of the contest during the low-scoring fourth quarter by scoring nine unanswered points that gave the visitors a 72-66 lead with 2:40 left in regulation. A free throw by Finn and a basket by May made it a three-point contest heading down the stretch. EMCC had a couple of late-game chances to possibly send the game into overtime, but potential game-tying trey attempts by May and Tyeisha Juhan misfired over the final 6.5 seconds.
May, from Jackson's Jim Hill High School, led head coach Sharon Thompson's 6-4 EMCC squad with a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Slowed by second-half foul trouble, all-region performer Quantesha Patterson was held scoreless in the second half with only one shot attempt after tallying 14 first-half points for the Lions.
Improving to 6-4 on the season, the East Central women received a game-high 32 points from Autumn Taylor, including 16-of-20 accuracy from the charity stripe. LaNeisha Jeans and Curtisha Coleman followed with 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Lady Warriors.
In the tightly contested men's nightcap that featured five ties and four lead changes during the opening 20 minutes of play, the home-standing Lions grabbed a 39-37 halftime lead on Anterio McKines' basket heading into the break.
With EMCC's leading scorer, sophomore David McFarland, seeing limited game action due to illness, the home team received valuable bench production and maintained a 51-49 lead on Mitch Storm's 3-pointer at the 14:30 mark. After the Warriors responded by scoring nine unanswered points to move ahead, 58-51, with 12 minutes remaining in the contest, freshman Reggie Turnage provided a much-needed spark off the bench for the Lions by following a putback basket with a 3-pointer.
As East Central continued to maintain its slight edge during the middle portion of the second half, Storm connected on his third 3-pointer of the game to knot the contest at 71-71 with 3:43 left. A minute later, however, ECCC's Josh Beard countered with his third triple to keep the Lions at bay.
EMCC managed to pull within a single point a couple of times down the stretch, but A.J. McFarland converted on four clutch free throws over the final 31.3 seconds to help provide the winning margin for the Warriors. McKines made things interesting during the game's closing moments by hitting a 3-pointer with a half-second left to account for the final outcome.
McKines, a Quitman product, matched his collegiate best with a game-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half. Storm, from Madison Central, followed with a season-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting for head coach Billy Begley's 5-5 EMCC Lions.
Evening their overall record to 5-5 on the season, the Warriors' balanced scoring attack was led by C.J. Ruffin's 13 points. Shaquille Benson added 11 points for the winners.
The East Mississippi basketball teams, both 1-0 within the division following their Dec. 6 home sweep over Northwest Mississippi, resume MACJC North Division action Thursday at Coahoma Community College with 6 and 8 p.m. contests at the Pinnacle in Clarksdale. The EMCC-CCC doubleheader is slated to be live-streamed at www.EMCCAthletics.com/live.