DECATUR – The East Mississippi Community College men's basketball team completed a season series sweep over East Central with a 90-77 road win over the Warriors during Thursday's MACJC hoops action at Brackeen-Wood Gymnasium. The EMCC Lady Lions opened the night with a convincing 67-43 victory over the Lady Warriors in women's action.
Three weeks ago in Scooba (Nov. 14), East Mississippi prevailed by scores of 73-57 (women's) and 88-85 (men's) to set up its first season series sweep over East Central since the 2013-14 basketball season.
During Thursday's rematch in Decatur, the EMCC Lions trailed only briefly during the opening minutes of the first half before scoring 15 unanswered points to take a 25-10 lead. After East Central cut the deficit to two points twice late in the opening half, the visitors outscored the Warriors, 13-4, during the final four minutes to claim a 43-32 advantage at the halftime break.
The Lions continued to build on their lead following intermission with the help of an 11-0 run, ignited by back-to-back 3-pointers by Donte Powers, early in the half that extended the margin to 21 points (56-35). Later in the half, a basket by EMCC's Arecko Gipson Jr. made it a 27-point contest (67-40).
Benefitting from a dozen made 3-pointers and 21-of-32 free throw shooting for the game, East Central managed to cut the deficit to a dozen points (84-72) during the game's final minutes. The Lions responded emphatically, however, with consecutive fast-break dunks by freshman forward Jakorie Smith to seal the 13-point victory.
Powers paced Coach Billy Begley's 7-3 EMCC Lions with 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and five assists. Smith notched his fifth double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Gipson also added 16 points along with six rebounds, while freshman point guard Danny Washington contributed 15 points on 5-of-7 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws for the winners.
Evening their record to 4-4 on the year, the home-standing Warriors were led by JaQuarius Smith and Kareem Thompson with 24 and 22 points, respectively.
In women's action, the Lady Lions rebounded from an early double-figure deficit with a game-changing, third-quarter defensive effort that propelled them to the 24-point victory. Initially, a 7-0 run by the Lady Warriors to begin the second quarter built a 23-11 lead for the home team. Taylor Lattimore's 3-pointer and a three-point play by Tye Metcalf then sparked a 15-6 run by the visitors that cut the ECCC lead to 29-26 by the intermission.
After taking their first lead of the game (30-29) four minutes into the second stanza on a pair of Maddie Riley free throws, the Lady Lions proceeded to score 16 unanswered points on the way to taking a 43-31 advantage by the end of the third quarter. While outscoring the Lady Warriors, 17-2, during the quarter, EMCC held East Central without a made field goal during the 10-minute span.
The Lady Lions comfortably maintained their double-digit advantage throughout the final quarter, increasing the margin to 25 points (65-40) late in the game after consecutive three-point plays by Aamiya Rush.
Improving to 7-2 on the season, Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions had five players score in double figures. Topazia Hawkins led the way with 15 points followed by Lattimore and Rush with 12 points each. Freshman Ja'Mia Hollings posted her fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Metcalf also added 10 points for the winners.
Falling to 4-4 on the year, the East Central women were led by Jariyah Covington and Jamaica Almons with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will tip off MACJC North Division play Monday (Dec. 9) by traveling to Moorhead to take on the Trojans of Mississippi Delta Community College in doubleheader hoops action. A 6 p.m. women's game will be followed by an 8 p.m. men's contest at MDCC's J.T. Hall Coliseum.