SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams dropped tough-luck home decisions to East Central Community College during Tuesday night MACJC hoops action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The visiting Warriors outlasted the home-standing Lions by a 55-52 final tally in women's action and prevailed again in men's play with a narrow 58-57 road victory over EMCC.
In the women's opener, the Lady Lions rebounded from an early seven-point deficit to knot the score at 22-all on Brianna Page's game-tying basket at the end of the opening half.
With the exception of a pair of additional ties coming back from the halftime break, the EMCC women held the advantage during most of the third quarter. After freshman guard Tye Metcalf banked in a shot at the buzzer to close out the period, Emily Evans' drive to the basket to begin the fourth quarter opened up a seven-point lead (43-36) for the Lady Lions.
The Lady Warriors then responded with a 9-2 run to create the first of three ties midway through the quarter. Following a two-minute stretch of action where neither team managed to score, East Central's Jariyah Covington got to the rim to break a 49-49 tie with 50 seconds remaining. After EMCC was called for a five-second inbounds violation, Covington converted a pair of free throws after rebounding her own missed shot attempt to give the visitors a 53-49 lead with 15.4 seconds left in the game.
EMCC's Page answered by connecting on her second 3-pointer of the game to make it a one-point contest with 7.7 ticks remaining. East Central's Covington, out of Starkville, stepped up again by nailing two more charity tosses to provide the final margin. The Lady Lions did have an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Metcalf's potential game-tying 3-pointer misfired at the final horn.
Dropping their fourth consecutive decision, Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions fell to 4-8 overall as they concluded their non-division hoops slate. Page, a product of West Jones High School, matched her career best with a game-high 19 points.
Improving to 9-1 overall on the season, East Central's women were led by Covington's 16 points, including the six clutch points during the final minute of play. Diamond Wraggs added a dozen points for the winners.
During the men's nightcap, the Lions rebounded from an early 15-point deficit (26-11) 13 minutes into the game by making an 11-2 run over the final six minutes of the half to cut the deficit to 28-22 by the intermission.
After being saddled with a pair of first-half fouls apiece, the backcourt tandem of Robert Davis Jr. and Dewayne Cox ignited EMCC's continued comeback attempt during the opening portion of the second half. Following a pair of three-point baskets by Davis and a Cox finger roll, Darrious Agnew's made free throw knotted the score at 37-all with 13:15 remaining in the game.
The Warriors promptly responded with eight unanswered points, including two made treys by Roti Ware, to re-establish control of the contest midway through the closing half. East Central continued to maintain a six-point lead (58-52) with two minutes left on the game clock before the Lions made a final push down the stretch.
With just over a minute remaining, EMCC freshman Donte Powers made it a one-possession game (58-55) by converting Cox's steal into a basket after the sophomore guard dove to the floor to gain possession for the Lions. Following a shot clock violation called on the visitors, Cox pulled the home team to within a single point by drilling a pair of free throws with 36.2 seconds left.
The Warriors used up most of the remaining time on their last possession before Ware's forced leaner was rebounded by Agnew with only 5.1 ticks remaining. Having scored all 16 of his points in the second half, the game's final play was designed for Cox. The Ripley native took the inbounds pass and made his way through traffic before misfiring on the potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions had their four-game winning streak snapped while falling to 7-5 overall on the season. Along with Cox's team-high 16 points, Agnew contributed 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.
The East Central men snapped their three-game losing skid and improved to 7-3 overall for the year. Ware led the way for the Warriors with a game-high 18 points.
The East Mississippi basketball teams, both 1-0 in MACJC North Division play after last month's home sweep over Mississippi Delta, resume division play by traveling to Goodman to meet the Holmes Bulldogs during a Thursday evening hoops doubleheader. A 6 p.m. women's game will be followed by an 8 p.m. men's contest at Frank Branch Coliseum on the Holmes campus. Both games are scheduled to be available via live-stream at www.EMCCAthletics.com/live with Austin Buchanan set to call the play-by-play action.