EMCC Lions prevail 93-75, Lady Lions fall 76-62 in MACCC openers versus Northwest Mississippi

Published 3:19 pm Friday, January 6, 2023

SCOOBA/SENATOBIA – East Mississippi Community College tipped off the new year with a basketball split against Northwest Mississippi during Thursday’s MACCC action. The Lions received 31 points from Blake Butler in claiming a 93-75 home win over the Rangers to begin conference play, while the visiting Lady Lions dropped a 76-62 road decision to Northwest’s Lady Rangers.

In men’s action played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum, the Lions used an 8-0 run midway through the first half, keyed by a pair of Ashten Michael three-pointers, to take a 22-13 lead. Following consecutive baskets by Butler that put the reigning MACCC Tournament champions on top by 11 points (37-26) later in the half, the Rangers outscored EMCC, 8-3, over the final three minutes to cut their deficit to 40-34 by the halftime break.

The visitors further cut into the lead early in the second stanza before the Lions again scored eight unanswered points, including a pair of baskets by Jacob Reese, to move ahead by a dozen points (50-38).

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EMCC maintained its double-digit advantage for the remainder of the contest, stretching the margin to as many as 20 points six different times over the final 11 minutes of play. Northwest managed to trim the deficit to 14 points twice down the stretch, but a DJ Avery three-pointer and layups by Kevin Henry and Tremaine Dixon Jr. helped seal the 18-point victory and complete EMCC’s regular-season sweep of the Rangers.

Butler, who exploded for a career-high 45 points during the Lions’ 104-75 road win over Northwest back on Nov. 14, scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the second half of Thursday’s rematch. The Louisville, Kentucky native made 10-of-20 field goals, 3-of-8 three-pointers and 8-of-9 free throws.

Avery, also from Louisville, tied his season high with 18 points, while Michael finished with 10 points off the EMCC bench. Reese, a Starkville product, keyed the Lions’ 36-26 rebounding advantage by pulling down 12 rebounds, including eight offensive boards, along with adding seven points.

The Northwest men (2-8, 0-1 MACCC) were led by Joseph Cooper’s 30 points, six rebounds and five assists. Jaylon Sanders followed with 16 points for the Rangers.

In women’s action contested at Northwest’s Howard Coliseum, the Lady Lions held the advantage for most of the game’s opening 20 minutes. Capped by a Sadie Williams three-pointer at the 3:31 mark of the first quarter, a 7-0 EMCC run put the visitors on top early, 13-6.

After leading, 17-11, following the first 10 minutes of play, the Lady Lions maintained their advantage throughout the second quarter on the way to holding onto a 28-25 halftime lead.

Playing without injured starting point guard DJ Williams, EMCC was plagued by costly turnovers during the second half of play. Slowed by 17 second-half miscues, the Lady Lions were outscored, 25-12, in the third quarter. The Lady Rangers scored the last seven points of the period to take a 10-point lead (50-40) after three quarters.

Northwest extended the margin to 13 points on Claire Leak’s three-pointer to open the fourth quarter, before the visitors responded with eight unanswered points to get back into the contest. Gabby Collier’s trio of made treys during a two-minute stretch cut EMCC’s deficit to five points on two occasions early in the quarter.

Sparked by consecutive made layups by Zaria Glover and Marian Jenkins midway through the quarter, the Lady Rangers responded by outscoring the Lady Lions, 15-9, over the game’s final five minutes en route to securing the 14-point victory.

Collier’s 17 second-half points gave the Pearl River transfer a new career high of 20 points. EMCC freshman Nakeria Scales, from Starkville, registered her first collegiate double-double with 14 points (7-11 FGs) and 11 rebounds. Sophomores Sadie Williams, a Mississippi Gulf Coast transfer, and Sukkima Suell, also a Starkville product, both approached double-doubles with 11 points/nine rebounds and nine points/10 rebounds, respectively, for the Lady Lions.

The Northwest women (5-4, 1-0 MACCC) were led by Jenkins’ 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Kae’la Mitchell and Glover followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Lady Rangers.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will continue conference play Monday against Southwest Mississippi. Head coach Isaiah Butler’s EMCC Lady Lions (2-6, 0-1 MACCC) will play host to the Lady Bears at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus, while head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions (10-1, 1-0 MACCC) will travel to Summit to take on the Bears. Both games are set for 6 p.m. tip-offs.