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Short-handed EMCC Lions hold on for 67-63 win at Meridian; Lady Lions falter in 48-44 OT setback to MCC
 January 11, 2013

MERIDIAN – The visiting East Mississippi Community College basketball teams battled rival Meridian Community College to a pair of four-point decisions Thursday night at Graham Gymnasium on the MCC campus.  In the nightcap, the short-handed EMCC Lions held on for a 67-63 victory, while the Lady Lions surrendered a 12-point, second-half lead to fall 48-44 in overtime to the home-standing Lady Eagles.

Coach Mark White’s gutsy EMCC Lions, improving to 8-4 on the year, had to play their second game of the week with only six available players because of seven players having to sit out their second and final outing of a two-game suspension.  Just two days prior in Scooba, the undermanned EMCC men breezed to a 91-75 home triumph over the rival Warriors of East Central Community College.  The unfortunate player suspensions, which involved the team’s leading scorer and rebounder on the year in Jarekious Bradley, No. 3 team scorer Micah Walker and starting point guard Nick Giles, were the result of a minor on-court altercation during EMCC’s third and final game of the post-Christmas Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout against host Mesa (AZ) CC in which the seven penalized Lion players were ejected and subsequently suspended for this week’s East Central and Meridian games for leaving the team bench.

Still feeling the after-effects of Tuesday night’s fast-paced effort against East Central, the resilient Lions scored 16 unanswered points to erase an early 5-1 deficit versus Meridian.  With freshman Mack Foster hitting his first three attempts from beyond the three-point arc, the visitors mounted a 25-9 advantage 11 minutes into the contest.  The Eagles managed to trim the margin to single digits (31-22) late in the half, but Foster’s fourth 3-pointer of the first 20 minutes of play staked the Lions to a 37-24 halftime lead.

Scoring the first six points of the second half on back-to-back inside buckets by Earnest Hunter and a jumper by Foster, EMCC’s lead grew to a game-high 19 points (43-24) a few minutes into the second stanza.  The Lions’ double-digit lead stayed solid for the first 12 minutes of the second half, before the Eagles scored 11 unanswered points to cut the deficit to 55-52 with 6:15 left in regulation.  Coming off Tuesday’s season-high, 35-point outburst against East Central, freshman guard Jacolby Mobley picked a key moment to score his first points of the night on a 3-pointer to temporarily stem Meridian’s rally.  Following five straight MCC points to make it a one-point contest (58-57), Mobley came up big once again with a three-point play the hard way by driving to the basket at the 3:42 mark.

Clinging to their precarious lead with the balance of the game on the line, the short-handed Lions solidified their second victory in three nights defensively with key blocked shots down the stretch by Hunter and Mobley.  Sandwiched between those blocks, a sixth 3-pointer (in seven attempts) by Foster with two minutes remaining also helped put the finishing touches on the hard-fought contest.

Foster, a freshman guard from West Bolivar High School, finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field to set a season high for the second straight game after scoring 19 points versus East Central.  Hunter, who had 13 points earlier in the week, also bested his career-high scoring mark for the second consecutive game with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Meridian.  The former Noxubee County product also matched Foster with a team-high eight rebounds to go along with his four blocks, four steals and three assists on the night.

Remaining winless in 17 attempts on the year, Meridian was led by Kenny Davis’ 22 points.

In the low-scoring women’s contest, the Lady Lions scratched out a 19-17 halftime edge as both teams struggled from the field and were slowed by frequent turnovers.  The EMCC women came out of the break strong with an 11-3 run to take a 30-20 lead with 14:30 remaining in regulation.

After the visitors bumped up the margin to a dozen points (36-24) with seven minutes left in regulation, the Meridian women scored seven unanswered points to cut the deficit to 36-31.  With just over two minutes remaining in regulation, the Lady Lions seemed to still be in control by scoring the next basket on an inside bucket by Savannah Kimmons.  However, EMCC was hampered by four critical miscues down the stretch, and the Lady Eagles scored the final seven points of regulation to tie the game at 38-38 heading into a decisive extra session.

Keyed by a three-point play by Charmane Tims, the EMCC women grabbed a 44-42 lead with just under two minutes remaining in overtime.  As was the case at the end of regulation, the Lady Lions would not be able to score again and were victimized by four more turnovers over the final 1:25 to seal their own fate.  With 31 turnovers for the game, 21 of those miscues came after halftime.

Now 2-10 overall on the year, head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions were led by Tims’ 12 points.  Quitman’s Dajah McCarty followed with 10 points, while freshmen Takera Mitchell and Kimmons followed with eight points apiece.

Improving to 11-5 on the year, the Lady Eagles were powered by Gelese Lampton’s game-high 27 points.

Now finished with non-divisional opponents for the regular season, the East Mississippi basketball teams resume MACJC North Division action Monday night (Jan. 14) by playing to host to Mississippi Delta Community College.  Game times are set for 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. at EMCC’s Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.  Both games will be video-streamed live on EMCC’s Ustream channel at www.ustream.tv/channel/emcc-basketball.

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