Smith’s big night leads No. 20 EMCC to home win
The short-handed East Mississippi Community College basketball teams split with East Central during Thursday’s MACCC hoops action played on the schools’ respective campuses. The 20th-ranked EMCC Lions held off the Warriors, 74-65, at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum, while the visiting Lady Lions fell to the ECCC women, 59-49, at Brackeen-Wood Gymnasium.
With eight available players on the night, the home-standing EMCC men battled visiting East Central to five first-half ties before scoring the last five points of the half to take a 32-27 halftime lead.
With the Lions still up by five points early in the second half, the Warriors drilled three straight three-pointers – one by Christopher Keys and a pair by Damian McKnight – to ignite a 16-5 run that generated a 51-45 ECCC lead by the 11:40 mark.
Two timely Kevin Henry treys and a pair of key Traemond Pittman baskets helped stopped East Central’s momentum midway through the half. With the score tied at 57-57 and eight minutes remaining in the contest, Jakorie Smith capped his 18th career double-double performance by scoring seven consecutive points for EMCC to give the home team a 64-59 lead.
Danny Washington then produced three straight baskets for the Lions over the game’s last four minutes to help account for the final nine-point margin.
Head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions improved to 15-4 overall and 8-2 in MACCC play with their third consecutive win since falling to nationally ranked Northeast Mississippi and Pearl River two weeks ago.
In addition to scoring 16 of his game-high 28 points after halftime, Smith collected a career-best 16 rebounds. Pittman added a season-high 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field for the winners.
Falling to 4-12 overall and 2-8 within the conference, East Central’s Keys matched Smith with 28 points of his own. James Granger followed with 11 points for the Warriors.
Also without two key players during the women’s contest in Decatur, the visiting Lady Lions held an early 11-7 lead following a Ciara Jackson three-pointer. The home-standing Lady Warriors then established control of the contest by going on a 22-6 run that produced a 29-20 East Central lead by the intermission.
As EMCC’s shooting woes continued following the break, the margin stayed at double figures throughout the majority of the second half. The Lady Lions did manage to cut the deficit to eight points (49-41) early in the fourth quarter on consecutive three-pointers by Shakira Wilson. The Lady Warriors answered with five straight points to bump the margin back up to double digits for the game’s remaining five minutes.
Head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions fell to 8-10 overall and 5-5 in the MACCC with their third straight setback. Siarra Jackson was a bright spot for the visitors by recording her first collegiate double-double with a game-high 17 points (8-13 FGs) and a career-most 13 rebounds. Wilson followed with 16 points for EMCC.
Improving to 8-9 overall and 4-6 within the league, ECCC’s Lady Warriors were led by Myeisha Scott and Sylvia Jones with a dozen points apiece. Kaedre Denson added 10 points for East Central.