DECATUR – The visiting East Mississippi Community College basketball teams completed their respective season sweeps of rival East Central Community College by claiming a 76-68 women's victory followed by a 77-71 men's triumph Tuesday evening at the the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building on the ECCC campus.
Including a pair of wins over East Central (86-74 women's & 87-69 men's) to open their home slate back in November, the EMCC men extended their series winning streak over the Warriors to 13 consecutive games dating back to the 2008-09 season while the Lady Lions have now claimed wins over ECCC in six of their last seven head-to-head meetings.
In the women's game, the visitors scored the last seven points of the opening half to offset a late 9-0 East Central run and own a 37-25 halftime advantage. The Lady Lions still maintained a 13-point cushion (55-42) midway through the second stanza before seven straight free throws by ECCC cut the deficit to six points (55-49).
With EMCC clinging to a precarious one-point lead, Jaylen Cox hit a clutch 3-pointer from the left corner to extend the lead to 65-61. After Tynika Bender's trey trimmed the margin to two points (70-68) just under the two-minute mark, Cox came up big again for the Lady Lions with a driving basket. The Lady Warriors would not score the rest of the game, as the EMCC women improved to 6-4 with the eight-point victory.
Falling to 5-6 on the season, the home-standing Lady Warriors received a game-high 23 points from Bender. Jaleshia Jones added 14 points.
In the nightcap, head coach Mark White's EMCC Lions used a 12-0 early run and a stifling first-half defensive effort to hold a 35-28 halftime advantage. Guard Avery Woodson tallied 18 first-half points to pace the visitors.
With EMCC in foul trouble, the host Warriors tightened the contest following the intermission by forcing six deadlocks and taking the lead on a couple of occasions over the final 20 minutes of play. With the score tied at 69-all with 1:32 remaining, EMCC sophomore guard Nick Giles hit a floater to put the visitors in the lead for good.
The two teams then traded solo charity tosses with less than a minute left before former McDonald's All-American Devonta Pollard forced a steal and converted a three-point play on the other end with a dramatic breakaway slam that put the Lions on top 75-70. Giles, a fellow Kemper County High School product, officially iced the game with a pair of free throws to finish with a career-high 20 points, including 18 in the second half.
Woodson, a University of Memphis signee, added three free throws in the second stanza to lead the 7-2 EMCC Lions with 21 points. The former Wayne County High School standout also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds to register his first collegiate double-double.
Dropping to 5-6 on the year, the East Central Warriors were led by Jacques Johnson's 20 points.
The East Mississippi basketball teams return home to play host to another local rival, as the Eagles of Meridian Community College invade EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum for a Thursday twinbill. Doubleheader hoops action on the Scooba campus tips off with a 5:30 p.m. women's game followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's contest.