|Bench effort keys No. 12 EMCC to 86-65 tourney win over Brunswick|
HUTCHINSON, Kan. –- Sparked by 39 collective points from the bench, the 12th-ranked East Mississippi Lions made a successful debut in their first NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship showing with a solid 86-65 first-round victory over Brunswick (NC) Tuesday afternoon at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
In making their initial appearance in the 63rd annual postseason event, the EMCC Lions advance to meet Navarro College (TX) in second-round action of the championship bracket Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT. A video stream broadcast of the contest will be available via the Internet by logging onto www.njcaa.org/tv.
Improving their season record to 27-5, the EMCC Lions received a career-first double-double from reserve forward Richard Dixon and a career-high 16 points from backup guard Joe McCoy. A freshman from Baton Rouge, La., Dixon notched his fourth double digit-scoring effort in the last five games – all coming during the postseason – with 17 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Hitting 8-of-13 shots from the field, Dixon’s scoring total was one point shy of his season-high 18 points scored against Northeast Mississippi in the opening round of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament.
“This was a total team effort today by our guys,” said EMCC third-year head coach Mark White, recently tabbed this year’s NJCAA Division I/District 15 Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year. “With CoCo Ware playing only 24 minutes because of foul trouble, we had some players really step it up for us out there.”
With Ware, a preseason second-team NJCAA All-American, saddled with second-half foul trouble, McCoy stepped up to hit 6-of-7 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from the line en route to his career-best scoring effort. A freshman from Raymond, McCoy’s previous season high of 10 points came against Bevill State in January. Limited to a season-low 24 minutes of action, Ware finished with a season-low four points to also match his career low coming in the third game of his collegiate career a year ago.
A hot-shooting Brunswick team initially put East Mississippi in an early hole, as the Dolphins took a 25-16 lead on Tyree Graham’s 3-pointer with 11:07 remaining in the opening half. The Lions came alive with 11 unanswered points to reclaim the lead (27-25) and used a 9-2 run later in the half to maintain a 45-40 halftime lead.
“We didn’t panic in the first half, because we knew they were a good team and they were making some tough shots,” White added. “In the second half, we continued to stay with our game plan and play with tough, aggressive man-to-man defense. I thought we did a better job in the second half of attacking, driving the ball and getting to the free-throw line.”
Following back-to-back baskets from Brunswick’s Chris Smith two minutes into the second stanza, EMCC’s reserves began to make an impact. Dixon and McCoy combined for 10 points between them during a key stretch that saw the Lions increase a five-point lead to 14 points (65-51) with 9:08 left in the contest. From there, the Dolphins could not get any closer than a dozen points, as EMCC kept adding to the eventual 21-point triumph.
After both teams shot better than 53 percent through the opening half of play, East Mississippi held Brunswick to 29-percent (9-of-31) shooting from the field and to only 25 points over the final 20 minutes. The Lions’ defensive intensity translated to the offensive end, as they connected on a sizzling 65 percent (17-of-26) from the floor during the closing period to finish the contest shooting a season-high 58.6 percent (34-of-58) on the day.
With four players scoring in double figures, freshman guard Deonte Alexander, from Nashville, Tenn., contributed 16 points and seven assists for the winners. Rookie forward Marino Thompson, a former Southeast Lauderdale product, added a dozen points for the Lions, including hitting three of the team’s first five baskets during the opening few minutes of play.
In falling to 23-11 on the year and into the consolation bracket of this week’s double-elimination tournament in Hutchinson, Brunswick was led by Tyree Graham’s 17 points. Alan-Michael Thompson and Marcus Graham followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Fans are also able to follow this week’s NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship by visiting to access official brackets, live stats, game results, and additional information about the tournament.
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 March 2010 )|
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