SCOOBA – In their first game action following the semester break, the EMCC Lions battled back from a double-digit deficit before dropping a heartbreaking 63-62 home decision to Meridian Community College during Monday's MACJC action played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. EMCC's Lady Lions opened the doubleheader by claiming their fifth straight win with a 61-48 victory over the visiting Lady Eagles.
During the thrilling men's nightcap, the visiting Eagles initially took control of the game by making an 11-1 run over the final five minutes of the opening half to take a 33-23 lead into halftime.
Following the intermission, the Lions opened the second stanza with an 18-8 spurt to knot the score at 41-41 on Donte Powers' three-point play with 13:12 remaining in the contest. For the next 13 minutes, the two teams battled through six lead changes and three more deadlocks before the outcome was determined on the final play of the game when Arecko Gipson Jr.'s made basket was waved off by the officials after coming just after the final buzzer.
With EMCC owning a 62-59 lead after Powers' driving basket to the rim with 1:43 remaining, MCC's Darryl Jordan hit a pair of free throws with 48.2 seconds left to set up the climactic finish. Following missed opportunities on the offensive end by the Lions down the stretch, Meridian's Justin Brown capped his 20-point night with a straightaway jumper to put the visitors back on top, 63-62, with just 4.5 ticks left in regulation. Having to go the full length of the court on the game's final possession, EMCC took too much time in the backcourt which ultimately resulted in Gipson's made jumper coming a fraction too late.
Falling to 8-4 on the season, the EMCC Lions were led by Powers' 17 points. Traemond Pittman, a product of Meridian High School, followed with a season-high 13 points and nine rebounds. Jakorie Smith added 11 points for EMCC, including nine in the second half after being saddled with first-half foul trouble.
Improving to 5-5 on the year, the MCC Eagles also received 14 points from Lorenzo Waddy and 11 points from Jordan. The win marked Meridian's first men's victory over EMCC since the 2014-15 season.
In the women's contest, the Lady Lions never trailed on the way to posting a 20-13 lead at the end of the opening quarter and then maintaining a 33-24 advantage at the halftime break.
After the Lady Eagles went on a 14-6 run following intermission to cut the deficit to a single point (39-38) on Sidney Sims' jumper, EMCC reestablished momentum late in the third quarter when sophomore guard Taylor Lattimore (Memphis, TN) drilled a 3-pointer and then subsequently drew a charge on the defensive end heading into the decisive fourth quarter. With Lattimore leading the way, the Lady Lions proceeded to score the first 16 points of the final period to expand the margin to 20 points (58-38) on Lattimore's fifth trey of the game coming midway through the quarter.
The visitors were held scoreless through the first six minutes of the final quarter. Berniya Hardin's 3-pointer at the 3:57 mark started a 10-0 Meridian run to cut the deficit in half, but the Lady Lions added a trio of free throws down the stretch to lock down their first season series sweep over the Lady Eagles since the 2016-17 season. EMCC previously claimed a 65-54 road victory over the Lady Eagles to tip off the current campaign back on Nov. 4 in Meridian.
Lattimore, a Jackson State transfer, finished with a game-high 19 points off the bench, including 5-of-10 three-point shooting, to match her season high previously scored at Meridian to open the season. EMCC freshman Ja'Mia Hollings (West Point) recorded her sixth double-double of the year with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Reigning all-conference guard Tye Metcalf (Southaven) also added 14 points for the 10-2 Lady Lions.
Hardin's 11 points led the 3-7 MCC Lady Eagles. Sims and Mia Moore added nine points apiece for the visitors.
Continuing their current week-long hoops home stand, the East Mississippi basketball teams resume MACJC North Division play by entertaining Holmes Community College during a Thursday night doubleheader on the Scooba campus. EMCC will then welcome Coahoma Community College for a Monday evening (Jan. 13) twin bill. Both upcoming home doubleheaders will feature 5:30 p.m. women's games followed by 7:30 p.m. men's contests at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.