TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The EMCC Lions faced their third straight nationally ranked opponent in five days only to drop a hard-fought 80-73 decision to No. 19 Shelton State Community College during Monday night doubleheader basketball action at the Umphrey Center. In women's action, the Lady Lions fell to the fifth-ranked Lady Buccaneers, 79-52, to begin the night.
Playing their fifth game away from home during a challenging eight-day span, the visiting Lions battled Shelton State from behind the entire contest and faced 14-point deficits during both halves.
After EMCC fell behind, 30-16, in the opening half, freshmen Danny Washington and Jakorie Smith combined for all 10 points during a 10-2 Lions run late in the half that cut the deficit to six points (34-28) before SSCC's Sean Elmore countered with a 3-pointer just prior to halftime.
The Buccaneers came out of the break to reclaim a 14-point advantage (50-36) four minutes into the second half. Beginning with another 10-2 spurt that whittled the lead back down to six points (52-46) on Traemond Pittman's 3-pointer at the 13:49 mark, the Lions spent the rest of the game trying to cut deeper into the deficit, but to no avail.
Every time the visitors got to within six or seven points, the hot-shooting Bucs would either connect on one of their 11 made treys for the game or respond with a quick basket following an EMCC score. The Lions were also slowed by some costly turnovers down the stretch that came at inopportune times and prevented them from catching a talent-laden Shelton State squad.
The Lions countered with 11 made 3-pointers of their own, including 6-of-12 three-point shooting by sophomore guard Donte Powers, who finished with a career-high 25 points leading all scorers. Smith, the current MACJC Player of the Week for last week's efforts during tournaments hosted by Pearl River and Northwest Florida State, started off the new week with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals against Shelton State.
A balanced Shelton State offensive attack featured five players scoring in double figures, led by Anquaevious Pollard's 17 points. Willie Johnson followed with 15 points, while Elmore, Dylan Robertson and Daviyon Dennis all added a dozen points to the winning effort by the 7-1 Bucs.
In the women's contest, the visitors trailed from the opening tipoff and fell behind, 16-2, midway through the opening quarter. The Lady Lions managed to score six straight points late in the period, but Shelton State managed to keep a double-digit lead (25-10) at the quarter break.
Following a basket by EMCC's Tia Daniels to open the second quarter, Shelton's LaTascya Duff sparked a 9-0 run with three straight baskets to give the Lady Bucs a 34-12 advantage four minutes into the quarter. The Lady Lions again responded as Taylor Lattimore's three-point play led to eight consecutive EMCC points to close the gap to 34-20 with three minutes remaining in the half. The visitors couldn't take advantage of back-to-back subsequent turnovers by SSCC to potentially further cut into the lead, and Shelton State proceeded to score the last seven points of the half to take a 41-20 cushion into the halftime break.
The second stanza featured much of the same dominance by the nation's fifth-ranked team, as EMCC couldn't get any closer than 15 points the remainder of the contest. With a 19-point lead at the end of the third quarter, the Lady Bucs extended the margin to 25 points (62-37) on Cierria Cunningham's 3-pointer to cap a 6-0 spurt to begin the final period. Late in the game, the difference grew to 30 points (79-49) with leading scorer Shelby Jane Petty knocking down a trio of 3-pointers over the game's final three minutes on the way to scoring a game-high 19 points and solidifying a 27-point victory.
With four Shelton State players scoring in double figures on the night, Thaniya Marks followed with 15 points and eight rebounds. Twin sisters LaTascya and LaTora Duff added 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the unbeaten winners (7-0).
The EMCC Lady Lions were led by Lattimore and Ja'Mia Hollings with 10 points apiece.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will return to action following the Thanksgiving holiday break with a Monday night (Dec. 2) hoops doubleheader at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus. Coach Sharon Thompson's 5-2 EMCC Lady Lions will play host to Snead State Community College at 5:30 p.m., while Coach Billy Begley's 5-3 Lions will cap the night with a 7:30 p.m. men's contest against the Royal Ambassadors Prep team.