SENATOBIA – The visiting East Mississippi Community College basketball teams dropped their MACJC North Division openers to Northwest Mississippi Community College Monday night at Howard Coliseum. The EMCC women lost a 77-64 decision to the Lady Rangers, while the Lions fell by a 78-67 tally in the men's nightcap.
In the women's division opener, the visitors cut a 10-point deficit (20-10) at the end of the first quarter in half by scoring eight consecutive points midway through the second quarter. After Northwest went on top, 25-12, by the 7:16 mark, Tyeisha Juhan scored six of EMCC's eight straight points to trim the margin to five points.
The contest stayed close throughout the third quarter with EMCC pulling to within a single point (48-47) on Kaisah Lucky's pair of made free throws at the 3:04 mark. After Northwest built its lead back up to eight points (58-50) toward the end of the period, Lucky's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Lions new life heading into the final quarter.
While continuing to play catch-up throughout the game, EMCC got as close as four points (61-57) after a steal and resulting basket by Lucky at the 6:36 mark. The visitors were still in the game later in the quarter when Lucky's pair of free throws cut the deficit to six points (66-60) with five minutes remaining in the game.
The Lions began to stumble following a turnover and consecutive missed three-point attempts. During that critical stretch, Northwest managed to reclaim a double-digit lead on the way to outscoring EMCC, 11-4, over the final game's final five minutes.
Falling to 3-4 overall on the season, head coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC women were led by Juhan's game-high 21 points. Lucky followed with 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Columbus' Kayla Rogers recorded a double-double with 15 points on 7-of-12 field goals to go along with 13 rebounds.
Improving to 5-3 for the year, the Lady Rangers were paced by Mercades Ward's 15 points, six rebounds and six assists. Astraea Moore and Kayla Bradley added 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
In the men's nightcap, the Lions overcame nine straight Northwest points in the opening half with an 11-3 run that helped turn a six-point deficit (21-15) into a seven-point lead (41-34) by the closing moments of the first half. Outshooting the Rangers 47 percent to 37 percent from the field through the opening 20 minutes of play, EMCC maintained a 41-36 halftime advantage.
The second half began in favor of the visitors as Ill'yan Scott's put-back basket was followed by Noel Jones' 3-pointer to give the Lions an eight-point lead (46-38). For the next three-plus minutes, though, Northwest ran off 14 unanswered points with EMCC committing six turnovers and only attempting two shots during that stretch.
To their credit, the Lions overcame the drought to pull to within a single point (52-51) on Keith Harris' 3-pointer at the 14:04 mark. EMCC then fell behind by double digits after the Rangers went on a 12-3 run to move ahead, 66-56, on Alex Shepard's trey with nine minutes left in the game.
The visitors made one more final push by scoring seven straight points to cut the margin to just three points (66-63) on Harris' drive to the rim with 5:50 still left to play. Still slowed by miscues and poor second-half shooting, the Lions only managed to score four more points the rest of the way in being outscored, 12-4, over the game's last five minutes.
Dropping to 5-2 for the year after committing 29 turnovers for the game and shooting but 33 percent from the field in the second half, head coach Billy Begley's Lions had four players score in double figures. Scott's 13 points and eight rebounds led the way for EMCC, followed by Harris' 11 points as well as Darrious Agnew and Cam Horton contributing 10 points apiece.
Improving to 8-1 on the season, the Rangers received a game-high 19 points from Tremont Robinson on 8-of-10 shooting. Therrell Gosier II and Radarius Washington added 10 points apiece for the winners.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will go separate ways for their final pre-Christmas hoops action on Saturday. With both games slated for 2 p.m. tip-offs, the EMCC men will play host to Baton Rouge Community College at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus, while the women will travel to Tuscaloosa to meet third-ranked Shelton State.