The East Mississippi Community College basketball teams tipped off the new calendar year by sweeping visiting East Central Community College Tuesday night at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus. The home-standing EMCC Lady Lions snapped an eight-game losing skid with a 67-60 triumph over the Lady Warriors, while the short-handed Lions breezed to a 91-75 victory over the winless ECCC men in the nightcap.
In the women’s contest, head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC women overcame a 36-27 halftime deficit and outscored East Central 40-24 in the second half to pick up their first victory since Nov. 3. The Lady Lions trailed the entire first half, going down by 11 points a couple of times midway through the half. After EMCC trimmed the margin to two points (24-22) on a Janay Townsel 3-pointer with around four minutes left until the break, the visitors outscored the Lady Lions 12-5 the rest of the half to take the nine-point halftime advantage.
The EMCC women came out hot from the field in the second stanza, taking their first lead of the contest (40-39) on a Takera Mitchell 3-pointer seven minutes into the half. After Xzandra Dowd’s trey briefly reclaimed the lead (45-42) for the visitors at the 11:00 mark, the Lady Lions scored 10 unanswered points to move ahead 52-45 with 7:30 remaining in regulation.
The Lady Warriors initially cut the deficit to four points with three subsequent free throws over the next minute of play. However, they would not get any closer than five points for the remaining six minutes, as the EMCC women would go on to claim their second victory of the campaign.
Improving their field-goal shooting from 31 percent over the game’s first 20 minutes to 47 percent in the second half, the 2-9 Lady Lions featured very balanced scoring on the night. Freshman guard Nockeyia Qualls, of Forest, led the way with a season-high 14 points, followed by Quitman’s Dajah McCarty and Mitchell, of Wayne County, with 11 and 10 points, respectively. West Point’s Wilma Davis and Leah Isabelle, of Pass Christian, each added nine points for the winners.
Falling to 4-8 on the year, the Lady Warriors received a game-high 18 points from Jakela Johnson, while Dowd added a dozen points for the visitors.
Coming off a fourth-place team finish in the post-Christmas Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout in Mesa, Ariz., in which they had seven players ejected from their third and final game of the tourney against host Mesa for leaving the team bench during a minor on-court altercation, head coach Mark White’s troops had to forge through the East Central game with only six available players. Those seven missing players, including leading scorer and rebounder Jarekious Bradley, No. 3 team scorer Micah Walker and starting point guard Nick Giles, were serving the initial outing of their two-game suspension, which will also include Thursday’s matchup at rival Meridian Community College.
Despite being undermanned, the home-standing Lions managed to grab a double-digit lead (21-11) eight minutes into the contest. Following a 3-pointer by East Central’s Chris Rhoney, EMCC freshman guard Jacolby Mobley scored the game’s next nine points to make it a 30-14 contest midway through the opening half. The Lions’ cushion ballooned to as many as 24 points on a Trey Brown driving baseline dunk before settling with a comfortable 53-30 halftime spread.
EMCC’s lead pretty much stayed around the 20-point margin for the majority of the second half. Only a pair of 3-pointers by East Central’s Rhoney and Walter Evans in the waning moments of the contest kept the game from being a 20-point affair.
Battling cramps toward the end of the game, Mobley, a former Starkville High School product, finished with a season-high 35 points and eight assists for the 7-4 Lions. Fellow freshman Mack Foster, of West Bolivar High School, also reached a season best with 19 points, while sophomores Trey Brown, of Brandon, and Noxubee County’s Earnest Hunter followed with 13 points apiece.
Dropping their 12th decision of the season in as many outings, the visiting Warriors were led by Rhoney’s 23 points. Jamere Eichelberger and Aquill Baynard followed with 12 points each.
The 16-point triumph by the Lions marked their 11th consecutive series win over East Central, including an 82-72 road win over the Warriors a month ago, dating back to the 2008-09 campaign.
The East Mississippi basketball teams hit the road to take on rival Meridian Community College Thursday evening. A 6 p.m. women’s game will be followed by an 8 p.m. men’s contest at MCC’s Graham Gymnasium. Both games are slated to be video-streamed live on EMCC’s Ustream channel at www.ustream.tv/channel/emcc-basketball, which can be easily accessed through the school’s newly launched athletics website, www.EMCCAthletics.com.