SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams both let halftime leads slip away in dropping a home MACJC North Division doubleheader to Northeast Mississippi during Monday night hoops action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The EMCC women fell 66-59 in the opener, while the Lions dropped a 68-65 men's decision in a battle of division co-leaders.
In the men's nightcap, the Tigers grabbed a five-point lead (23-18) late in the opening half on back-to-back 3-pointers by Antares Gwyn and Denzel McDuffey. The Lions promptly responded by going on a 13-2 run, including nine unanswered points, to close the half with a 31-25 lead.
EMCC kept the upper hand for the opening seven minutes of the second stanza before Northeast scored 10 straight points to take a 46-39 lead with 11:39 remaining. The visitors increased the margin to nine points (54-45) three minutes later on McDuffey's three-point play.
Despite shooting just 33 percent (20-of-61 FGs) from the field for the game, the Lions ran off 11 unanswered points, including seven from New Hope High School product Terryonte Thomas, to briefly reclaim the lead at 56-54 with 5:22 left in the contest. As EMCC's perimeter shooting woes continued down the stretch, McDuffey's two jumpers and pair of free throws keyed a 9-2 Northeast run that put the visitors in front by five points (63-58) with just over a minute remaining.
Down by seven points (67-60) with just 13.3 seconds left, the Lions made things interesting during the waning seconds by making a comeback attempt with five quick points over the last 9.6 seconds to cut the final margin to three points.
Slowed by hitting just 1-of-23 shots from three-point range on the night, Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions fell to 10-7 overall and 4-2 in division play. Coming off the bench, Starkville's Darrious Agnew recorded his fourth career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Thomas and Dewayne Cox followed with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Behind McDuffey's game-high 24 points, including 16 coming after halftime, the Northeast Tigers improved to 15-2 overall and secured sole possession of first place in the MACJC's North Division at 5-1 through the first rotation of division play. DeAnthony Tipler and Jamarcus Jones added nine and eight points, respectively, in the winning effort.
In the women's contest, the Lady Lions jumped out to an early 11-2 lead and held a 17-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Brianna Page and Emily Evans midway through the second quarter later gave EMCC a 24-16 lead. Despite shooting just 28 percent (10-of-36 FGs) from the field in the opening half, Northeast managed to cut the deficit to 29-26 by the intermission.
The third quarter played out in similar fashion with EMCC owning an eight-point lead (35-27) early in the period. The Lady Lions continued to maintain their edge throughout the quarter, though the Northeast women stayed close by making it a three-point contest (44-41) heading into the fourth quarter.
After Haley Vick's 3-pointer knotted the game at 44-all to open the quarter, consecutive baskets by Cherelle Jones and Tekeria Newson gave the Lady Tigers their first lead (50-49) of the game with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. The two teams battled through six more lead changes before Northeast scored eight unanswered points down the stretch to open up a seven-point margin (62-55) with a minute left in the contest. A 3-pointer by Dayzsha Rogan and Lanoria Abrams' three-point play keyed the game-deciding run for the visitors.
The Lady Lions did mount a comeback attempt over the game's final minute with a put-back basket by Maddie Riley and Amaiya Rush's score off a Northeast turnover. Trailing 62-59 with 40 seconds left, EMCC then got the ball back by tipping an inbounds pass off a Northeast player. However, Tye Metcalf's subsequent driving shot attempt was blocked. Rogan then proceeded to seal the seven-point road victory with a pair of free throws and a basket off an intercepted inbounds pass over the final 20 seconds.
Dropping to 6-11 overall and 3-3 within the division, Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions were led by Metcalf's 18 points. Evans followed with a career-high 14 points. Page added 11 points, while Riley contributed eight points and 12 rebounds.
While shooting 53 percent (16-of-30 FGs) from the floor in the second half and benefitting from a 50-37 rebounding advantage in the contest, the Northeast Lady Tigers improved to 11-5 overall and 4-2 in division play. Rogan led the way with 19 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Newson added a dozen points off the bench for the winners.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will begin the second half of the MACJC's regular-season division slate by venturing to Moorhead on Thursday to meet the Trojans of Mississippi Delta Community College. With game times set for 6 and 8 p.m. at J.T. Hall Coliseum, EMCC-MDCC doubleheader hoops action is slated to be live-streamed at www.EMCCAthletics.com/live with Austin Buchanan set to call the play-by-play action.