EMCC women prevail at Hinds; Lions fall to Bulldogs in first home loss of season

Published 10:24 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

SCOOBA/UTICA – During Monday’s MACCC hardwood action against Hinds, the East Mississippi Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams posted contrasting season firsts. The EMCC women won their first true road game of the season with a 77-69 victory in Utica, while the Lions fell at home for the first time this season in men’s action by dropping an 84-79 decision to the Bulldogs on the Scooba campus.

In men’s action played at EMCC’s Keyes T. Currie Coliseum, the home-standing Lions began Monday night’s action in a three-way tie for first place in the MACCC standings with Itawamba and Copiah-Lincoln – all with 8-2 conference marks. Playing without the league’s No. 2 scorer, Patrick McCraney, due to an ankle injury, Hinds led for the majority of the opening 14 minutes of play.

Ignited by their full-court press, the Lions made a 13-3 run late in the half to pull out to a seven-point lead. Started by a pair of free throws and a made three-pointer by Tremaine Dixon Jr., EMCC scored eight unanswered points during the stretch to move ahead, 32-25, on Dixon’s put-back basket. The Bulldogs then set the stage for what would be a thrilling 20 minutes of second-half action by knotting the score at 32-32 with seven straight points heading into the break.

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Following intermission, the Lions and Bulldogs battled through five more deadlocks before EMCC’s Blake Butler and Hinds’ Taylon Smith put on an entertaining three-point shooting exhibition during the last 10 minutes of the contest. With the Bulldogs up by two points (51-49) midway through the half, Butler went 4-of-5 from three-point range during a sizzling two-minute stretch that also included a four-point play to give the Lions a 62-54 advantage.

It was then Smith’s turn for his three-point display, as the Vicksburg product matched Butler’s long-distance efforts with all five of his second-half treys coming over the game’s final seven minutes. After Smith’s third triple within a span of less than two minutes cut Hinds’ deficit to 67-65 by the 5:14 mark, the sophomore guard would connect two more times from deep over the game’s final couple of minutes to significantly contribute to the Bulldogs’ upset road win.

Following his game-tying (73-73) three-pointer with 1:43 remaining in the contest, Smith’s fifth made trey of the second half and seventh of the game put Hinds in front (78-77) for good with 34.4 second left on the game clock. Following a pair of critical turnovers and a missed three-point attempt by EMCC down the stretch, the Bulldogs sealed their second conference win of the season with a put-back basket by Isaac Ratliff plus combined 4-of-4 free throw shooting by Smith and Kenard Bowie over the final 10 ticks of the contest.

EMCC’s Butler topped all scorers with 32 points (26 in the second half) on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, including 7-of-11 accuracy from beyond the three-point arc. The effort marked his fourth career outing with 30 or more points, ranking only behind his career-best, 45-point performance at Northwest Mississippi earlier this season. Dixon Jr. followed with a career-high 23 points on 7-of-12 field goal shooting (4-of-9 treys) for the Lions.

With his 27 points coming off the bench on 9-of-19 shooting, including 7-of-14 three-pointers, Smith paced a quintet of double-digit scorers for Hinds. Bowie totaled 15 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals in the winning effort for the Bulldogs.

The EMCC Lady Lions entered Monday’s women’s road game played at J.D. Boyd Gymnasium in Utica winless in nine previous attempts on the opposition’s home floor this season. The visitors never trailed on the road against Hinds after jumping out to a 16-6 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to some strong inside play by Sukkima Suell.

After the Lady Bulldogs cut the deficit in half (21-16) by the quarter break and then forced a second tie of the game (26-26) on Destiny Brown’s three-pointer at the 3:55 mark, EMCC outscored Hinds, 9-2, the rest of the half to hold down a 35-28 halftime advantage.

The visitors came out of intermission by going on a 10-2 run to lengthen their lead to 45-30 by the 5:30 mark of the third quarter. Hinds managed to trim the deficit to single digits (53-44) by the end of the third quarter and then further cut into the Lady Lions’ lead midway through the final period.

Following a 10-5 Hinds run to open the fourth quarter and make it a 58-54 contest, EMCC’s Gabby Collier drilled a clutch three-pointer to halt the Lady Bulldogs’ momentum midway through the quarter. Hinds would get no closer than five points the rest of the way, as Collier capped her 12-point quarter with another trey to lock down the Lady Lions’ first true road win of the season in their 10th try.

Sadie Williams tallied a career-high 17 points along with adding eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in the victory. Collier and Suell followed with a dozen points apiece for EMCC’s Lady Lions.

Jayiah Ransom led all scorers with 21 points for Hinds.

East Mississippi’s basketball teams are scheduled to be back in action on Thursday (Feb. 16) against Itawamba. Head coach Isaiah Butler’s EMCC Lady Lions (7-11, 5-6 MACCC) will play host to the ICC women at 6 p.m. on the Scooba campus. In a battle of second-place teams, one game behind league-leading Copiah-Lincoln, head coach Billy Begley’s EMCC Lions (17-4, 8-3 MACCC) are set to travel to Fulton for a 5:30 p.m. contest against the Indians.