|EMCC Lions erase 20-point, second-half deficit to win regional hoops opener|
CLINTON, Miss. – The East Mississippi Lions rallied from a 20-point, second-half deficit to claim an 83-75 opening-round victory over Southern-Shreveport Monday afternoon at the NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament being held at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Trailing by 11 points (41-30) at halftime and down by 20 points five minutes into the second half, coach Mark White’s Lions scored 11 unanswered points to cut the deficit to single digits (54-45) with 11:28 remaining in the contest. Following a 3-pointer by Southern-Shreveport’s Whitworth Treasure that put the Jaguars on top, 67-59, with 4:25 left, EMCC benefitted from a smothering full-court press and some clutch free-throw shooting to outscore SUSLA, 24-8, down the stretch to complete the 28-point turnaround and come away with the eight-point triumph.
The 17-10 Lions advance to take on MACJC North Division rival Holmes Wednesday at noon in the Region 23 tournament semifinals on the MC campus. The Bulldogs swept East Mississippi during the regular season, claiming an 82-68 road win in January and edging the Lions, 68-63, last month in Goodman.
Winners of the Miss-Lou Conference, the Jaguars of Southern-Shreveport used a 22-6 run early in the first half to mount a 27-12 advantage by the midway point of the opening period. After draining a season-high 13 three-point baskets in each of their two MACJC State Tournament outings last week in Ellisville, the Lions became reliant on the three-point shot early in their regional opener. In missing their first nine trey attempts against Southern-Shreveport, the Lions found themselves down by double digits at the intermission.
The Jaguars seemed to be in cruise control early in the second stanza, lengthening their cushion to 20 points (54-34) five minutes into the second half. A tip-in basket by Darian Donald of Columbus’ Caledonia High School and a 3-pointer by Starkville’s Coco Ware ignited an 11-0 EMCC run that cut the deficit to single digits (54-45) by the 11:28 mark. Trailing by eight points (67-59) with 4:25 left, the Lions turned up their defensive pressure, especially after made baskets and free throws. Southern-Shreveport’s inability to break EMCC’s active press resulted in numerous turnovers, allowing the Lions to convert easy baskets and get to the charity stripe.
The primary sparkplug in East Mississippi’s impressive second-half turnaround, Starkville’s Woodie Howard scored nine straight points for the Lions to help pull them to within a basket (67-65) with 3:42 remaining. Following a basket by SUSLA’s LeMario Harris, Ware knocked down a triple after making a steal and then sank one of two free throws the next possession to knot the score at 69-69 with 2:48 on the clock. EMCC took its first lead since early in the opening half on a driving layup by Jackson’s Terence Bennett with just under two minutes remaining. Donald hit both free throws following another EMCC steal and Ware scored on a feed from Bennett to put the Lions on top, 75-69, to stay.
After shooting just four free throws in the first half and making only 2-of-13 shots from beyond the arc, EMCC shot 23-of-31 from the line over the final 20 minutes, including 8-of-10 over the final minute to seal the victory. The Lions were also credited with 10 second-half steals and 16 for the contest.
With 19 points and 10 rebounds in the second half alone, Howard registered career highs of 29 points and 17 rebounds for the game to record his seventh double-double of the campaign. Ware added 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Bennett tallied 11 of his 13 points in the second half. Donald was EMCC’s fourth player in double digits with 10 points on the day.
Treasure led the 19-10 Jaguars with a game-high 31 points, followed by Sean Thurston with 18 points for Southern-Shreveport.
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 March 2009 )|
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