|EMCC Lady Lions beat Jones County to begin defense of regional hoops title|
CLINTON –- The East Mississippi women’s basketball team successfully began defense of their regional championship by claiming a 71-56 first-round victory over state champion Jones County Monday at the 2010 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament being played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
A year ago in Clinton, head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions posted a 76-73 semifinal-round regional win over the JCJC Lady Bobcats en route to earning the school’s first NJCAA Tournament appearance since 1978.
Well rested after dropping a 73-65 first-round decision to previously unbeaten Copiah-Lincoln last Tuesday at the EMCC-hosted MACJC State Basketball Tournament, the EMCC women fell behind 6-0 before getting on the scoreboard four minutes into Monday’s contest. Beginning with that Martika Hull driving basket at the 15:55 mark, the Lady Lions went on a 23-8 run to open up a 23-14 lead with 3:46 left in the half. However, the Lady Bobcats managed to cut the deficit to 29-25 heading into intermission.
Jones County maintained its momentum at the start of the second stanza, pulling even with the Lady Lions on a couple of occasions before EMCC went on another hot streak to re-establish control of the contest. With the score tied at 34-34 three minutes into the half, Natalie Tate’s 3-pointer and back-to-back baskets by reserve Shelby Crawford sparked a 9-0 run that put the Lady Lions on top 43-34 with 14 minutes left.
After Jones cut the margin to three points, EMCC answered the charge with offensive production from yet another reserve in guard Eryn Gray of Columbus. Contributing a pair of 3-pointers off the bench in the first half, Gray continued her hot hand with seven more points during a three-minute span that helped push the lead back up to double digits (56-46) with seven minutes remaining.
Champions of the past two women’s state tournaments, the Lady Bobcats managed one last rally to pull to within four points (57-53) with 4:20 left. However, EMCC responded with a Nashedra Barry bucket and two free throws from Malashia Chandler to all but thwart Jones’ final comeback attempt. With the Lady Lions shortening the game by running clock on offensive possessions and adding to the lead at the charity stripe, JCJC did not score from the field over the game’s final three minutes.
Gray and Hull paced a quartet of double-figure scorers for the 15-12 Lady Lions with 15 points apiece. A reigning MACJC All-North State performer by way of Southeast Lauderdale, Hull registered her 10th double-double of the season and 17th of her career by pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds. Crawford added a dozen points, including 4-of-5 second-half shooting, while Tate chipped in with 10 second-half points for the winners.
Finishing the season with a 22-6 overall record, Jones County was led by Tanecka Carey’s game-high 19 points. Ashley Lee and Brigit Taylor contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.
With men’s first-round regional action taking place Tuesday on the MC campus, the EMCC women will meet Baton Rouge CC – a 73-69 first-round winner over MACJC North Division champion Northwest Mississippi – Wednesday at noon in semifinal-round women’s action.
Fresh from last week’s runner-up finish at the East Mississippi-hosted MACJC State Basketball Tournament, head coach Mark White’s 23-5 EMCC Lions take on Northeast Mississippi Tuesday at 8 p.m. to cap opening-round men’s regional action at MC’s A.E. Wood Coliseum.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 01 March 2010 )|
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