Lions get back on track with convincing home win
The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College got back on the winning track with a convincing 82-56 home win over Mississippi Delta during makeup MACCC men’s basketball action played Saturday afternoon at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.
Playing their third game in six days after falling to conference front-runners Pearl River and Northeast Mississippi earlier in the week, the Lions’ weekend action against the Trojans was the result of a previously postponed (Jan. 20) contest due to COVID-19 concerns.
On the strength of eight first-half triples as a team – three each by Blake Butler and Jakorie Smith – EMCC settled for a 40-33 halftime advantage after MDCC’s Markell Petro scored the final five points of the half.
The visitors continued to battle tough through the opening minutes of the second half by cutting the deficit to just two points.
Sparked by three-pointers from Danny Washington and Brandon Deravine, the Lions responded by scoring eight unanswered points to increase their lead to 55-45 by the 14:33 mark. A pair of Kevin Henry free throws and a breakaway dunk by Smith midway through the half then permanently put EMCC in front by double digits.
Capped by six straight made free throws by Butler as a result of consecutive technical fouls called on MDCC’s bench, a 10-0 EMCC rally stretched the advantage to 21 points (72-51) by the 4:29 mark.
Improving to 13-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play, head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions had four players score in double figures. Smith and Butler finished with 19 points apiece, while Deravine and Traemond Pittman followed with 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the winners.
EMCC’s basketball teams both fell to Pearl River last Thursday with the Lions dropping a 72-59 home decision to the conference front-running Wildcats at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum, while the Lady Lions were edged, 45-42, by the PRCC women at Marvin R. White Coliseum.
In men’s action on the Scooba campus, the Lions faced their second title contender of the week after having their nine-game winning streak snapped Monday at No. 20 Northeast Mississippi. The Wildcats responded to the challenge by extending their win string to 10 consecutive games with the double-digit road victory over EMCC.
The Wildcats drilled a total of eight treys during the half, including a banked triple by Jair Currie at the halftime buzzer that stretched their lead to 41-26. The closest EMCC could get int he second half was six points when Brandon Deravine’s three-pointer pulled EMCC to within 53-47.
The Lions were led by Jakorie Smith’s 14 points, while Blake Butler and Kevin Henry followed with 10 points apiece.
EMCC’s Lady Lions initially owned the advantage during Thursday’s low-scoring women’s contest played on the Poplarville campus. Early three-pointers by Shakira Wilson and Jenessa Souza staked the visitors to a 10-4 lead four minutes into the game.
Pearl River gained control later in the opening quarter by going on a 17-2 run that was capped by consecutive three-pointers from Otashae Burrage and a subsequent trey by Tristen Washington. The Wildcats scored the last 13 points of the quarter to take a 21-12 lead into the second period.
EMCC’s Siarra Jackson proved to be a bright spot by hitting 6-of-6 free throws and a basket during the second quarter to help trim the visitors’ deficit to 24-21 by halftime.
The Lady Lions reclaimed the lead in the second half by scoring the last eight points of the third quarter that included three-pointers by Souza and Wilson. DJ Williams’ basket to open the fourth-quarter scoring capped a 10-0 run that gave EMCC a 37-30 lead.
Washington provided a lift for Pearl River by hitting a pair of three-pointers, including converting a four-point play with a free throw, to knot the score at 39-39 with six minutes remaining in the game. The Wildcats then took the lead for good down the stretch on consecutive baskets by Burrage and Washington.
The EMCC women were led by Jackson’s game-high 19 points, including 11-of-12 accuracy from the charity stripe. The Ripley product also pulled down eight rebounds. Thomas added eight points and 11 boards for the Lady Lions.