SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College Lions remained unbeaten on the young season after holding on for an 88-85 home victory over East Central Community College during Thursday night MACJC basketball action played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum. The EMCC women improved to 4-0 on the year by claiming a solid 73-57 win over the visiting Lady Warriors.
The men's nightcap appeared to possibly be headed to another double-digit EMCC win after the Lions built a 15-point halftime lead (47-32) on the strength of 15 first-half points by Arecko Gipson Jr., along with 10 points by freshman point guard Danny Washington. Gipson's 3-pointer later increased the margin to 20 points (54-34) early in the second half. The lead was still 16 points (81-65) with less than six minutes remaining in the contest.
That's when East Central freshman JaMichael Wilson single-handedly brought the Warriors nearly all the way back by connecting on three straight 3-pointers to cut the deficit to five points (81-76) with four minutes still left in the game. Over the next couple of minutes, neither team could take advantage of scoring chances until EMCC sophomore guard Donte Powers scored on a left-handed drive to the rim with the shot clock winding down. After ECCC's Kareem Thompson and EMCC's Gipson traded baskets, Wilson drilled his eighth 3-pointer of the second half to make it an 85-81 contest with under a minute remaining on the game clock.
Wilson's second-half hot streak cooled down after he missed a few three-point attempts down the stretch and was called for an offensive foul. Instead, ECCC's JaQuarius Smith, out of nearby Noxubee County High School, made things even more interesting during the game's waning moments by hitting a trey with 5.3 ticks remaining to narrow the gap to just two points. After Washington hit the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with three seconds left on the game clock, the Warriors collected the errant second shot attempt and Thompson's potential game-tying, half-court shot banged high off the backboard as the final buzzer sounded.
The 3-0 EMCC Lions were led by Gipson's game-high 28 points and freshman Jakorie Smith's second straight double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Washington and KJ Riley added 11 points apiece for the winners.
Falling to 1-2 on the year, the East Central men had four double-digit scorers but only six players scored in the game. Wilson scored all of his 26 points during his second-half, three-point shooting exhibition, while Smith followed close behind with 25 points. Thompson and Nick Preyer contributed 19 and 11 points, respectively, for the Warriors.
In the women's game, the Lady Lions scored the last five points of the first quarter and then outscored ECCC, 21-6, in the second quarter, including a 13-2 run over the final four minutes of the half, to break open a tight contest and take a 38-22 halftime advantage.
EMCC maintained a double-digit lead throughout the third quarter, though the Lady Warriors used a 9-2 run over the final three minutes of the period and then hit a free throw to begin the fourth quarter and cut the deficit to single digits (55-46). The Lady Lions promptly responded with a Tye Metcalf 3-pointer to reclaim a double-figure margin they would not relinquish en route to posting the 16-point triumph and improving to 4-0 on the year.
Freshman Ja'Mia Hollings, out of West Point, recorded her second double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds to pace the winners. Topazia Hawkins and Metcalf followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for EMCC.
The Lady Warriors evened their record at 1-1 and were led by Mylisha Hammond's 14 points. Starkville's Jariyah Covington added 11 points for the East Central women.
The East Mississippi basketball teams will travel to Poplarville to open the week at the PRCC Wildcat Classic. Coach Sharon Thompson's EMCC Lady Lions will take on host Pearl River Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. for their only game of the two-day tournament. Coach Billy Begley's EMCC Lions will meet LSU Eunice following Monday's EMCC-PRCC women's contest and then return to PRCC's Marvin R. White Coliseum the next day for a 5:30 p.m. Tuesday contest against Baton Rouge Community College.