Career-high scoring efforts power EMCC Lions to 85-76 win at Copiah-Lincol

Published 3:37 pm Monday, January 17, 2022

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.

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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 are scheduled to continue conference action against nationally ranked Jones College on Tuesday (Jan. 18). Head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions will travel to Ellisville to meet the No. 14 Bobcats, while head coach Sharon Thompson’s 6-6 Lady Lions (3-1 in MACCC) will play host to the 11th-ranked JC Lady Bobcats in Scooba. Both games are slated to tip off at 6 p.m.