Career-high scoring efforts power Lions to win at Co-Lin
WESSON — With three players posting career-high scoring totals, the 13th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College collected their eighth consecutive win and stayed unbeaten in conference play by claiming an 85-76 road win over Copiah-Lincoln during Saturday’s MACCC makeup men’s basketball action played at Mullen Gymnasium.
Now undefeated dating back to Nov. 18, EMCC’s current eight-game winning streak marks the team’s best run since the 2018-19 Lions squad won nine straight games en route to claiming the school’s first conference championship in men’s basketball since the 1930s.
In a makeup contest from last week’s Jan. 6 postponement due to COVID-19 concerns, Saturday afternoon’s game featured career-high scoring efforts by EMCC sophomores Jakorie Smith, Danny Washington and Brandon Deravine. Smith poured in 25 of his career-best 32 points during the second half, while Washington and Deravine followed with 19 and 15 points, respectively, to help the Lions improve to 11-2 overall and 4-0 in MACCC play.
During a first half that featured five ties and three lead changes, the Lions came back from an early 11-6 deficit with a 13-2 run midway through the half to take a 19-13 lead. Riding the hot hand of Lerenzo (Trey) Fort’s 16 first-half points, the Wolves mounted a six-point lead (39-33) late in the half before Washington’s three-pointer at the halftime buzzer gave the visitors some halftime momentum only trailing by three points.
The second stanza opened with three more ties before Fort drilled a trio of three-pointers that gave Co-Lin a seven-point advantage (57-50). The Wolves maintained their lead until EMCC’s Smith went on a scoring spree of his own to ignite the Lions’ second-half surge.
As part of his 25-point, second-half explosion, Smith’s fifth trey of the half snapped a string of four straight deadlocks to give EMCC the lead (72-69) for good. The Lions’ game-ending 16-7 run was also aided by Blake Butler’s three-point play and 8-of-10 free throw shooting down the stretch to seal the nine-point road victory.
Smith finished the contest hitting 10-of-19 shots from the field, including 5-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc, and making 7-of-9 free throws. He also added a game-high eight rebounds for the winners. Washington contributed seven assists, four rebounds and four steals to go along with his career-best 19 points.
In falling to 4-8 overall and 1-3 in conference action, Copiah-Lincoln was led by Fort’s game-high 35 points. The nation’s second-leading scorer in NJCAA Division I men’s basketball was 10-of-22 overall from the field, 9-of-16 from three-point range and 6-of-7 at the charity stripe. Grevaughn Goodman followed with 15 points off the bench for the home-standing Wolves.
East Mississippi’s basketball teams were scheduled to continue conference action against nationally ranked Jones College on Tuesday night.