The East Mississippi Lady Lions hung on to claim a 47-44 victory over Northwest Mississippi in Tuesday’s opening round of the 2009 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
With the victory, head coach Sharon Thompson’s 22-5 Lady Lions advance to meet MACJC state champion Jones County in Wednesday’s semifinal-round action slated for a 6 p.m. tip-off on the MC campus. The EMCC-JCJC women’s contest will be aired on www.jcjc.tv or made available to fans by visiting www.jcjc.edu and clicking on the link.
Last week at the MACJC State Tournament in Ellisville, the host Lady Bobcats claimed a 59-54 semifinal-round victory over East Mississippi. However, the Lady Lions swept Jones County during the regular season, prevailing 78-76 in Ellisville during the season opener and by an 86-57 outcome in Scooba back on Dec. 2.
Following a sluggish start in which they shot just 24 percent (8-of-34 FGs) from the field in the first half, the Lady Lions connected on nine of their first 18 field-goal attempts after the break to mount a nine-point lead (39-30) midway through the closing period. After EMCC had increased its margin to double digits (41-31), the Lady Rangers made an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to four points (43-39) with three minutes remaining.
East Mississippi’s sophomore playmaker Kottia White of Jackson Murrah temporarily quelled NWCC’s comeback attempt by hitting her third 3-pointer of the half (in four attempts) to put the Lady Lions back up by seven points (46-39) with two minutes left in the contest. Beginning with a pair of free throws by Tamara Wadlington with 1:01 on the clock, Northwest made the first-round regional contest very interesting down the stretch.
With EMCC leading, 47-41, Wadlington cut the margin in half by nailing a 3-pointer with 22.1 seconds remaining after the Lady Lions could not collect two earlier NWCC misses during the possession. Not yet in the double-bonus at the stripe, EMCC had a pair of 1-and-1 opportunities at the line to all but ice the victory. With 21.1 seconds left, reserve Brittani Jones first misfired on the front end, but Ciera Thomas’s trey attempt was rebounded by EMCC’s Jasmine Abrams. In the waning seconds of regulation, White stepped to the line with another chance to essentially clinch the victory for the Lady Lions. However, she came up empty as well, giving the Lady Rangers one last opportunity to send the game into overtime. But, Sabrina Townsend’s errant three-point attempt was collected by Abrams as the game ended.
Though she struggled with 5-of-16 shooting from the field for the game, Lady Lion sophomore forward Angelique Burtts recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Georgia State signee from Conyers, Ga., also added two assists, two steals and four blocks. Receiving her first start since Jan. 20, sophomore forward Jasmine Abrams of Columbus scored 10 of her dozen points in the second half in addition to pulling down eight rebounds. Freshman forward Martika Hull of Southeast Lauderdale narrowly missed a double-double with nine points to go along with her game-high 14 rebounds.
The 18-8 Lady Rangers were led by Wadlington and Thomas with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Having earned an 83-75 come-from-behind victory over Miss-Lou Conference winner Southern-Shreveport during Monday’s first-round regional action from Mississippi College, head coach Mark White’s 17-10 EMCC Lions will precede the East Mississippi women on Wednesday by taking on Holmes in men’s semifinal-round play beginning at noon.