Capped by a last-second, game-winning basket by former McDonald’s High School All-American Devonta Pollard, the East Mississippi Community College basketball teams swept visiting Northwest Mississippi during Thursday’s MACJC North Division action at EMCC’s Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The Pollard buzzer-beater gave the Lions an 85-83 nightcap victory, following the Lady Lions’ 64-59 win over the Northwest women in the opener.
After trailing 39-33 at the half and continuing to play from behind for the better part of the opening 10 minutes of the second half, the home-standing Lions evened the score at 60-all on Avery Woodson’s fourth of five second-half 3-pointers. From that point midway through the period, the two teams then battled through nine lead changes and three more ties during the remaining 10 minutes of play.
The final deadlock came just inside the one-minute mark when Northwest’s Dajon Reno hit a pair of free throw to even the score at 83-all. After the two teams traded turnovers, Nick Giles’ pass attempt inside was tipped out of bounds by a Ranger defender with just 1.6 seconds left in regulation. Following an EMCC timeout, Davon “Chuck” Ester eyed Pollard with an inbounds pass from underneath the Lions’ basket, and the former Kemper County standout out-jumped the Northwest defenders to guide the ball through the cylinder for the game-winning bucket. Still with a fraction of a second left in the contest, NWCC’s length-of-the-floor pass attempt was tipped in the frontcourt as time expired.
With the two teams being whistled for a combined 59 fouls and five players fouling out of the game, the Lions, who entered the contest with only nine available players, were down to six players by game’s end after Woodson, Jacolby Mobley and Mack Foster had all fouled out.
Pollard paced a quartet of double-figure East Mississippi scorers with a game-high 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 accuracy from the line. Improving to 10-4 overall and 2-2 in division play, head coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions also received 16 points apiece from Mobley and Antonio Finley. Bouncing back from a scoreless opening half, Woodson finished with 15 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting after halftime.
Falling to 7-7 overall and 3-2 within the division, the Northwest Rangers also had four players score in double digits on the night. Tristan Moore led the way for the visitors with 16 points, followed by De’Sean Dockery with 14 points.
In the women’s contest, the EMCC Lady Lions scored 19 unanswered points to jump to a 24-6 advantage midway through the opening half en route to maintaining a seemingly comfortable 39-21 halftime lead. However, the visiting Lady Rangers ran off the first 14 points of the second half to cut the deficit to 39-35 four minutes into the period.
As the EMCC women finally snapped their second-half scoring drought on a Wilma Davis break-away basket at the 15:45 mark, Northwest’s Tekevanna Young injured her foot on the play and did not return to action. Young had scored 15 points in 20 minutes of action before the injury.
The Lady Lions took advantage of Young’s absence by slowly rebuilding the lead to double digits, as Davis’ 3-pointer and a pair of free throws from Takera Mitchell put the home team in front 52-41 with eight minutes left in the game. Though EMCC continued to hold onto the lead down the stretch, the Lady Rangers made it a one-possession contest (62-59) on a Kristina Mays basket with 21.4 seconds remaining.
After being fouled in the backcourt on the ensuing possession, Mitchell then secured the Lady Lions’ third straight victory by nailing two more free throws to account for the final margin. The five-point victory gave the EMCC women a perfect 9-0 mark on the season when scoring 60 or more points.
Head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions, now 9-6 overall and 4-1 in division play, were led by Davis’ season-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. The former West Point High School product set her previous season best with 14 points during East Mississippi’s 74-70 double-overtime victory at Itawamba earlier in the week. Mitchell and Kyra Gulledge added 14 and 11 points, respectively, against Northwest.
Dropping to 8-5 overall and 2-3 within the division, the Northwest Lady Rangers received 21 points from Mays on 8-of-11 shooting.
The East Mississippi basketball teams hit the road twice next week for MACJC North Division doubleheaders at Coahoma and Holmes on Monday and Thursday, respectively.