SCOOBA – Thursday night's basketball doubleheader on the East Mississippi Community College campus featured a pair of upsets. The EMCC Lady Lions knocked off preseason 16th-ranked Wallace State-Hanceville, 67-59, to begin the evening, while the preseason 11th-ranked EMCC Lions dropped a 78-71 decision to Wallace State in the nightcap at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.
In Thursday's opening game, the home-standing EMCC women played catch-up the entire first half after being outscored 9-0 during the first two minutes of the contest. After cutting the deficit to a single point (33-32) by the break, the host Lady Lions took their first lead of the game, 39-38, on a 3-pointer by Dana Gettis at the 14:46 mark.
Following five more lead changes, East Mississippi took the lead for good, 60-58, on a three-point play by West Point's Wilma Davis with exactly two minutes remaining in the contest. The two teams then traded missed opportunities on their next possessions, before EMCC's Takera Mitchell scored a breakaway bucket to extend the lead to 62-58 with about a minute left to play.
As the visitors misfired from the field in their comeback attempt, Mitchell secured EMCC's upset victory by hitting 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to account for the 67-59 final outcome.
Gettis, from Chicago, paced the winners with 16 points, including 14 in the second half on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Mitchell, a product of Wayne County High School, followed with a dozen points. Sophomore post players Kyra Gulledge and Savannah Kimmons added 11 points apiece for head coach Sharon Thompson's 4-2 EMCC Lady Lions.
Falling to 4-2 on the season, Wallace State-Hanceville received a game-high 24 points from Jaylan Snowden.
In the nightcap, the host Lions built on a 38-31 halftime lead by scoring the first five points after the break to go on top, 43-31, two minutes into the second half. However, Wallace State later scored 11 unanswered points to take its first lead of the half, 46-45, on a three-point play by Cody Farley.
The visitors would move ahead, 52-48, at the midway point of the half, before EMCC went on a 15-3 run over the next three minutes to pull out to a 63-55 advantage. The Lions held onto the lead until a pull-up jumper by Lee Moore tied the game at 67-67 with just under three minutes remaining. Marcus Johnson followed with a clutch 3-pointer at the 2:13 mark to put Wallace State in front to stay.
Approaching the one-minute mark in the contest, Avery Woodson answered Johnson's scoop in the lane with a 3-pointer that cut EMCC's deficit to one point, 72-71, with 1:15 remaining. A critical sequence ensued when EMCC's Jacolby Mobley stole the ball but failed to connect on the other end. Following two subsequent offensive put-back attempts by the home team, Jestin Lewis stepped to the line and sank both charity tosses to give Wallace State a 74-71 lead with 35.4 seconds left.
Quickly down on the other end, Nick Giles' flip shot rolled around the rim and off to essentially seal EMCC's fate. The rebound was turned into two made free throws by Moore and the contest became a two-possession game with just 19.6 ticks remaining on the game clock.
With their first setback in four outings on the year, head coach Mark White's EMCC Lions were paced by Davon "Chuck" Ester's 14 points. Woodson and Mobley followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Improving to 5-1 on the season with the upset victory, Wallace State-Hanceville received a combined 59 points from guards Moore (game-high 21 points), Johnson (20) and Lewis (18).
The EMCC basketball teams will take a two-week hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday before returning to the court to play host to the Holmes Bulldogs in their MACJC North Division openers on Thursday, Dec. 5 in Scooba.