|No. 12 EMCC men top Northeast to advance to regional hoops semifinals|
CLINTON –- The 12th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi have advanced to the regional semifinals for the second straight year with an 86-79 first-round victory over Northeast Mississippi Tuesday night in the 2010 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament being held at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Improving to 24-5 overall on the season by avenging a 71-67 road loss to Northeast in the regular-season finale, head coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions will meet Hinds Wednesday at 8 p.m. in semifinal-round action. In doing so, the Lions will get a chance to avenge another regular-season setback, having dropped a 79-74 home overtime decision to Hinds back on Nov. 9 for their first loss of the campaign.
In Tuesday’s first-round contest against the Tigers of Northeast, EMCC scored the first eight points of the second stanza to turn a 35-34 halftime deficit into a seven-point lead (42-35) two minutes into the half. After letting a double-digit lead midway through the half slip away, the Lions scored seven unanswered points in just over a minute to build the margin back up to double figures (72-62) with 5:42 remaining.
However, Northeast battled back once again to trim the deficit to three points (77-74) by the 2:05 mark. EMCC’s defense rose to the occasion by forcing the Tigers into tough shot attempts during their next two offensive possessions. While running clock on their end, EMCC was able to ice the victory at the charity stripe by going 9-of-10 from the line over the final minute of play.
Both combatants were particularly productive from the free throw line in the contest, as EMCC shot 24-of-31 (77.4%) from the stripe, including 20-of-24 (83.3%) in the second half. Northeast was equally impressive from the line, hitting 31-of-40 (77.5%) for the game and 22-of-26 (84.6%) after intermission.
Preseason NJCAA All-American CoCo Ware pumped in 23 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, including 11-of-13 free throws after the break, to pace a trio of twin-digit East Mississippi scorers. The former Starkville High School standout has now reached the 30-point mark five times on the year.
Off the EMCC bench, freshman forward Richard Dixon, from Baton Rouge, reached his season scoring high for the second straight game. Following his 13-point effort in last Thursday’s state championship battle with Pearl River, Dixon bypassed that mark by tallying 18 points against Hinds, including 4-of-6 accuracy from beyond the three-point arc. Fellow freshman Marino Thompson added 10 points for the winners.
Ending their season at 12-12, the Northeast Tigers had four players reach double digits in the scoring column. Tyler Pritchard and Tyrie Berry led the way with 20 and 18 points, respectively.
Wednesday’s other men’s semifinal-round matchup will have the recently crowned state champions of Pearl River meeting Itawamba at 6 p.m. The women’s regional semifinals will tip off Wednesday’s action on the MC campus with the defending NJCAA Region 23 champion EMCC Lady Lions meeting Baton Rouge at noon, followed by nationally ranked Copiah-Lincoln against Itawamba at 2 p.m.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 March 2010 )|
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