|EMCC men top Gulf Coast 90-79 to cap first day of state hoops tourney|
SCOOBA – The eighth-ranked Lions of East Mississippi capped an opening day of MACJC State Basketball Tournament play in which all four higher seeds prevailed by claiming a 90-79 first-round victory over Mississippi Gulf Coast Monday night at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum on the Scooba campus.
Champions of the MACJC’s North Division, head coach Mark White’s top-seeded EMCC Lions never trailed the visiting Bulldogs and used an early 13-0 run to mount a double-figure advantage eight minutes into the contest. The home team maintained control throughout the opening half on the way to holding a 48-28 halftime lead.
The home-standing Lions held onto their twin-digit margin for the better part of the second stanza, though the fourth-seeded Gulf Coast ballclub did manage to trim the deficit to eight points (70-62) with seven minutes remaining. EMCC responded with a pair of CoCo Ware free throws and a 3-pointer by Deonte Alexander to bump the lead back up to double figures (75-62). A late MGCCC rally would again cut the deficit to eight points within the final minute of play, but the Lions easily moved ahead to semifinal-round action by collecting their 14th victory in their last 16 decisions.
Balanced scoring prevailed for the 22-4 EMCC Lions, as Alexander, a freshman playmaker from Nashville, led the way with 20 points, including a dozen in the opening half. Fellow freshman Marino Thompson, a former Southeast Lauderdale standout, registered his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five blocked shots. Former Starkville High School teammates John Harris and Ware added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
Falling to 17-9 on the season, Gulf Coast was paced by Travis Rasco’s game-high 21 points. Marlon Williams and Matthew Washington followed with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
EMCC advances to Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinals against No. 2 South seed and defending state champion Jones County, who earned a 76-59 first-round win over No. 3 North seed Northeast Mississippi. Also moving onto men’s semifinal-round play were No. 2 North seed Itawamba – 71-58 winners over third-seeded Hinds – and South Division champions Pearl River, who knocked off fourth-seeded Holmes, 68-48, on Monday. The PRCC-ICC semifinal-round contest will be played Wednesday at 2 p.m. at EMCC’s Currie Coliseum.
The men take a break from competition on Tuesday, as the women will have their turn in opening-round state tournament action on the Scooba campus. Tuesday’s action begins at noon with No. 2 South seed Jones County against No. 3 North seed Mississippi Delta, followed by the North Division champions from Northwest Mississippi versus No. 4 South seed East Central at 2 p.m. Tuesday’s evening session in the women’s bracket will pit No. 2 North seed Itawamba against No. 3 South seed Southwest Mississippi at 5:30 p.m., prior to the 7:30 p.m. rematch of last year’s NJCAA Region 23 championship game between the host EMCC Lady Lions and the nationally third-ranked and undefeated Lady Wolves of Copiah-Lincoln.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 22 February 2010 )|
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