No. 23 EMCC wins fourth straight with 66-60 home win over Southwest; Lady Lions fall in Summit

Published 2:56 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

SCOOBA/SUMMIT — The 23rd-ranked East Mississippi Community College Lions claimed their fourth straight win with a hard-earned 66-60 home victory over Southwest Mississippi during Monday’s MACCC basketball action. In women’s play, the EMCC Lady Lions dropped a 56-36 road decision to Southwest’s Lady Bears.

Fresh off earning a No. 23 national ranking in this week’s NJCAA Division I men’s basketball poll, the Lions scored the game’s first 10 points before visiting Southwest got on the board five minutes into the contest. After the Bears pulled to within six points (16-10), EMCC scored 10 unanswered points to take a 26-10 lead on Danny Washington’s three-point play with 7:43 remaining in the opening half.

Sparked by consecutive treys by Edward Lacey late in the half, the Bears cut the EMCC lead to three points on a couple of occasions. Nick Walker answered with a three-pointer of his own to end the first-half scoring with the Lions in front, 33-27.

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Following intermission, the Lions responded to Zach Shugars’ back-to-back treys with a 10-2 run that increased their lead to double digits (50-40) midway through the second stanza. Though never able to grab the lead in the contest, the Bears promptly ran off 10 straight points to produce the game’s only tie (52-52) with 5:26 left in the game.

EMCC temporarily regained control of the game with a Jakorie Smith three-point play followed by Blake Butler’s left-handed finish at the rim. A pair of Washington free throws were sandwiched between Southwest three-pointers from Lacey and Trent Coleman to make it a one-point game (59-58) with 2:56 remaining in the contest.

Following an EMCC timeout, the Lions benefitted from a broken play perhaps at the most opportune time of the game. After Butler lost control of the ball on his way to the basket, the loose ball ended up in the hands of Smith, who barely beat the shot clock on a three-point make in front of his own bench to give EMCC a 62-58 lead with 1:14 left on the game clock.

A subsequent defensive stand that was capped by Walker’s third blocked shot of the game preceded 4-of-6 free throw shooting by the Lions during the final minute of play to seal the six-point victory and stretch their win streak to four consecutive games.

Improving to 7-2 overall and 2-0 in MACCC play, EMCC was led by Smith’s game-high 19 points and Washington’s career-high 18 points, including 11-of-13 from the charity stripe. Butler added 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in the winning effort.

Southwest was led in scoring by Lacey and Nate Hudson with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions will stay at home to play host to the Eagles of Meridian Community College on Thursday (Dec. 9). Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.

In women’s action from Summit, three-pointers from EMCC guards Jenessa Souza and DJ Williams capped a game-opening 10-0 run. Following a Southwest timeout, the Lady Bears proceeded to score 14 unanswered points to take a 14-10 lead into the second quarter.

The visitors briefly reclaimed the lead (19-16) early in the second quarter on consecutive baskets by reigning MACCC Women’s Basketball Player of the Week Shakira Wilson, who claimed the weekly honor following her career-high, 33-point performance during EMCC’s 83-71 conference-opening home win over Northwest Mississippi last Thursday (Dec. 2). However, Wilson’s trey with seven minutes left at Southwest marked the Lady Lions’ final points of the opening half, as the Lady Bears tallied 14 unanswered points to a take a 30-19 halftime advantage.

After their margin grew to 16 points (39-23) in the third quarter, the Lady Bears scored the game’s final eight points over the last five minutes of action to coast to the 20-point home triumph.

EMCC’s Williams led all scorers in the contest with a dozen points. Siarra Jackson followed with eight points for the visitors.

Southwest had 10 players in the scoring column, led by Gabby Bunch, Lynn Griffin and Analya White all with nine points apiece.

Coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions, 4-5 overall and 1-1 in MACCC play, will close out their pre-Christmas holiday hoops slate by taking on nationally sixth-ranked Shelton State in Tuscaloosa on Monday (Dec. 13). Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Umphrey Center and will precede the men’s 7:30 p.m. nightcap pitting 23rd-ranked EMCC and No. 15 Shelton State in a much-anticipated rematch. The Lions previously closed out the month of November (Nov. 29) with a thrilling 84-82 overtime home men’s win over the Bucs in Scooba.