SCOOBA – The home-standing East Mississippi Community College basketball teams swept rival Itawamba in a crucial MACJC North Division doubleheader Thursday evening at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The Lady Lions took over first place from ICC in the division with a 78-76 victory, while the Lions inched closer to the Indians atop the men's standings with a convincing 85-51 triumph in the nightcap.
With both women's teams entering the contest with identical 8-1 division marks, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions improved to 14-7 overall to match the program's collective win total from the previous two seasons combined. Their 9-1 division record gives the Lady Lions a one-game lead over ICC's Lady Indians with a week remaining in the regular season.
Trailing by nine points (45-36) to Itawamba at halftime, the Lady Lions chipped away at the deficit before taking their first lead of the contest (59-57) on a pair of Takera Mitchell free throws at the 11:14 mark. Following three deadlocks over the next two minutes, the lead changed hands six times over the game's final four minutes.
In the final minute of play, ICC's Jasmine Golden gave the visitors a brief 76-75 lead by banking in a basket. On the other end, Lashyra Butler's miss was rebounded by teammate Kyra Gulledge, who was sent to the line after being fouled. The former Furman University transfer made 1-of-2 charity tosses to tie the contest at 76-all with 46.2 seconds left to play. The play of the game followed shortly thereafter when Mitchell stripped ICC's Jayla Chills of the ball and converted the eventual game-winning free throws after being fouled with 22.7 ticks remaining.
The Lady Indians had two more attempts offensively in the waning seconds, but Golden's pass went through Lytia Coleman's hands with 12.7 seconds left and later Coleman's hurried three-point try at the buzzer misfired to give the Lady Lions their eighth consecutive division triumph of the year.
Completing the season sweep over the ICC women after previously claiming a 74-70 double-overtime win three weeks ago in Fulton, the Lady Lions placed four players in double figures in Thursday's rematch. Mitchell and Jaylen Cox led the way for the winners with 17 points apiece. Savannah Kimmons and Butler followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Falling to 12-9 overall and 8-2 within the division, the Lady Indians were led by Leslie Robinson's 15 points. Coleman, Chills and Golden all added 14 points apiece for the ICC women.
In the nightcap, the Lions were looking to avenge their 107-103 double-overtime setback at Itawamba last month and keep pace with the Indians atop the MACJC's North Division men's standings. The EMCC men were also looking to keep alive their current streak of four straight division titles.
Bolting to a quick 9-0 start, the EMCC men held a 39-26 halftime advantage in the rematch. The margin grew to 20 points (53-33) by the 14:35 mark of the second stanza. After struggling with 2-of-8 shooting in the opening half, EMCC's Avery Woodson caught fire midway through the closing period. His five 3-pointers in the second half helped lengthen the lead to 31 points (67-36) with 10:17 still left to play.
Woodson, a Memphis signee, finished with 20 points to trail only teammate Jacolby Mobley's 22-point effort for game scoring honors. Mobley, a Chattanooga signee, scored the game's first seven points and went on to hit 8-of-11 shots from the field for the game. Nick Giles and Mack Foster added 13 and 11 points, respectively, to the 34-point winning effort.
With their seventh consecutive victory since losing at Itawamba on Jan. 21, head coach Mark White's EMCC Lions, now 16-4 overall and 7-2 in division play, limited Itawamba to just 27-percent (17-of-63) shooting on the night. Dropping to 13-8 overall and 8-2 within the division, the Indians were led by Alex Anderson's 18 points as the only ICC player to score in double figures.
The East Mississippi basketball teams travel to Senatobia to take on Northwest Mississippi during a Monday road doubleheader before returning home to entertain Coahoma on Thursday at Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.