GOODMAN – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams capped a successful week of road competition by sweeping Holmes Community College Thursday evening in MACJC North Division play at Frank Branch Coliseum. The EMCC women claimed their fifth straight victory with a 63-48 win prior to the Lions holding on for a 71-63 triumph over the host Bulldogs in the men's nightcap.
Earlier in the week in Clarksdale, the EMCC squads successfully closed out the first half of the regular-season division slate by sweeping at Coahoma Community College.
In Thursday's opener, EMCC's Takera Mitchell and Jaylen Cox combined for 20 first-half points, as the Lady Lions jumped out to an early 14-point advantage before settling for a 29-22 halftime lead.
The visitors scored the first five points after the break to increase their lead back up to double digits. The Lady Bulldogs followed with an 8-3 run to cut the deficit to seven points at 37-30, but that was as close as the home team would get for the remainder of the contest.
Reserve point guard Lashyra Butler and reigning MACJC Women's Basketball Player of the Week Wilma Davis then sparked a significant 15-3 EMCC run that saw a 39-31 lead balloon to 20 points (54-34) during the midway point of the second stanza. The Lady Lions' double-figure lead remained intact the rest of the way and the final 15-point outcome completed their season series sweep against Holmes. EMCC previously claimed a 60-49 home win over the Lady Bulldogs during the first week of December.
Improving to 11-6 overall and remaining tied with Itawamba atop the MACJC North Division women's standings at 6-1, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions were led by Mitchell and Cox with 15 points apiece. Butler and Davis also scored in twin digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively, as the EMCC women secured their longest win streak since the 2010-11 season.
Falling to 5-13 overall and 2-5 within the division, the Lady Bulldogs were led by Carmesha Nalls with 14 points, through Holmes' leading scorer on the year was limited to 4-of-26 shooting from the field.
In the nightcap, head coach Mark White's four-time reigning NJCAA Region 23 and MACJC North Division champions raced out of the gates with an 8-0 spurt en route to posting a quick 13-4 lead four minutes into the game. The home-standing Bulldogs responded with an 11-1 run to grab their only lead of the contest at 15-14 midway through the half.
The visitors regrouped with a very balanced scoring attack and entered intermission with a 34-25 advantage as Nick Giles hit a floater at the halftime buzzer.
Despite their leading scorer on the year, Avery Woodson, being limited to only one made free throw and going scoreless from the field on just six shot attempts, the Lions received significant scoring contributions from seven other players who all tallied between eight and 12 points individually.
Those valuable contributions came from both outside and within the paint throughout the contest and particularly in the second half. Mack Foster's tip-in basket and Antonio Finley's 3-pointer capped a 7-0 spurt that put the Lions on top, 49-33, eight minutes into the second stanza.
With EMCC seemingly in control and still up by double figures (65-54) heading into the final three minutes, the Bulldogs suddenly became energized by capitalizing on some untimely Lion miscues down the stretch. Four straight turnovers by the visitors resulted in nine unanswered points by Holmes and EMCC's lead had shrunk to a single basket at 65-63.
Fortunately for the Lions, Holmes then resorted to launching 3-pointers during crunch time in an attempt to close out the comeback attempt. A pair of 1-for-2 trips to the charity stripe by EMCC's Jacolby Mobley along with a clutch bucket and two free throws from teammate Davon "Chuck" Ester resulted in the only scoring by either team over the final minute of play. During that game-deciding stretch to the final buzzer, the Bulldogs misfired on all five three-point attempts allowing the Lions to escape with the eight-point road victory.
Improving to 12-4 overall and 4-2 within the division, EMCC had four players in double figures – Mobley and Devonta Pollard each with 12 points as well as Foster and Justin Kinsey with 10 points apiece – followed by Ester and Giles with nine points each and Finley with eight.
Led by Tamarico Wilson's game-high 18 points, the Holmes Bulldogs dropped to 10-7 overall and 2-4 in division play.
Taking a brief break from division action, the EMCC women's team travels to Tuscaloosa to take on fifth-ranked Shelton State Community College Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, the Lions will play host to William Carey College's junior varsity men's basketball team on Monday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. East Mississippi's basketball teams will resume MACJC North Division play on Thursday (Feb. 6) by welcoming Mississippi Delta Community College to the Scooba campus for a 5:30/7:30 p.m. hoops doubleheader.