No. 19 EMCC men top No. 16 Shelton State on the road; Lady Lions fall at No. 6 SSCC

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2021

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In a top-20 showdown to close out their pre-Christmas holiday hoops slate, the 19th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi won their sixth straight game with a hard-earned 61-56 road victory over 16th-ranked Shelton State during Monday’s junior college basketball action played at the Umphrey Center.

In women’s action on the Shelton State campus, the sixth-ranked Lady Bucs coasted to a 78-45 home triumph over EMCC’s Lady Lions.

Two weeks removed from having previously claimed a thrilling 84-82 overtime home win over then-No. 10 Shelton State, the EMCC men never trailed in Monday’s rematch. The Lions combined a lockdown defensive effort with balanced scoring on offense to jump out to an early lead.

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Late in the opening half, three inside baskets by Atavius Jones and a three-pointer by Kevin Henry comprised a 9-0 EMCC run that gave the visitors a 27-13 lead. Down the stretch, Blake Butler’s back-to-back treys extended the margin to 18 points (33-15) before the Lions settled for a 34-18 halftime advantage.

Following intermission, the Bucs opened the second half with a 12-2 spurt that cut the deficit to six points (36-30) on Jaykwon Walton’s deep three-pointer with 14:37 remaining in the game.

EMCC’s perimeter game then got back on track with Butler hitting a corner trey followed by consecutive triples by Danny Washington to put the visitors back in front by double figures.

With the Lions still on top by eight points (56-48) heading into the game’s last four minutes, Shelton State kept battling uphill for the remainder of the contest. An Antonio Thomas three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Willie Johnson made it a one-possession game (56-53) with 2:32 left.

After the two teams traded empty possessions, Butler’s clutch fourth made trey of the game was answered by a put-back basket and a 1-for-2 trip to the charity stripe by Shelton State’s Andres Burney to keep it a three-point contest with just 43.5 seconds remaining.

Following another exchange of missed opportunities, coupled with the Bucs still having two fouls to give down the stretch, the game clock ticked down to 12 seconds left before EMCC’s Jakorie Smith was sent to the free throw line. The Lions’ leading scorer on the season responded by essentially sealing the victory with his pair of charity tosses.

As a team for the game, EMCC limited Shelton State to just 32 percent shooting (19-60 FGs) from the field, including only 7-of-33 (21%) from beyond the three-point line. The Lions connected on one more three-pointer than the Bucs despite shooting 13 fewer times from behind the arc. EMCC shot 44 percent (24-55 FGs) overall from the field and 40 percent (8-20 treys) from long range.

Butler and Smith led the 9-2 Lions with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Butler also added six rebounds, five assists and three blocks, while Nick Walker contributed eight points and eight rebounds to the winning effort.

Dropping to 8-3 on the year, with two of those setbacks coming to EMCC, Shelton State had four players in double digits in the rematch. Thaddeus Williams led the way with 13 points for the Bucs. Walton and Thomas followed with 11 points apiece.

The women’s rematch was much the same as it was two weeks ago (Nov. 29) when the visiting Lady Bucs dominated during an 85-47 road win over EMCC. Shelton State built upon a 19-12 lead after the opening quarter to move ahead, 38-21, by the halftime break.

To their credit, the visiting Lady Lions outscored Shelton State, 19-13, during the third quarter to reduce the double-digit deficit to nine points (49-40) on a Kyunna Thomas basket late in the quarter.

The 10-1 Lady Bucs proceeded to firmly reestablish command of the contest by outscoring EMCC, 27-5, during the final quarter on the way to the 33-point victory.

Shelton State’s Asia Barclay led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Taylor Smith (13), Maya Cunningham (12) and Ke’Ajia Williams (11) also scored in double figures for the Lady Bucs.

Now 4-6 overall entering the Christmas holiday break, the EMCC women were led by Markiema Lancaster’s 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field. Thomas and Jenessa Souza followed with nine and eight points, respectively, for the Lady Lions.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will begin the new calendar year by resuming MACCC action against Copiah-Lincoln on Thursday, Jan. 6. The women’s contest will be played in Scooba and the men’s game will be contested in Wesson. Both games are slated for 6 p.m. tip-offs.