|EMCC drops 77-75 heartbreaker to Northwest Florida State to end hoops campaign|
HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The most acclaimed season in the history of the East Mississippi men’s basketball program came to an end Thursday afternoon at the Hutchinson Sports Arena, as the 12th-ranked Lions dropped a heartbreaking 77-75 decision to fifth-ranked Northwest Florida State College in an elimination contest within the championship bracket.
After battling through seven lead changes and coming back from a seven-point deficit with just under seven minutes remaining, EMCC had a chance to win or send the contest into overtime on the game’s last play. However, Deonte Alexander’s last-gasp 3-pointer at the buzzer caromed off the backboard square to reluctantly halt a history-making campaign for the up-start Lion basketball program.
It was Alexander, a freshman playmaker from Nashville, who played a major role in the Lions’ comeback effort. His sixth 3-pointer of the contest with 1:30 left knotted the game at 75-all. The two teams then traded missed opportunities to break the deadlock. Northwest Florida State’s Brian Bryant failed to connect on a leaner in the lane with a minute left. With 39 seconds remaining on the game clock, EMCC couldn’t take advantage of a pair of put-back chances. CoCo Ware’s drive to the basket wouldn’t fall and Richard Dixon’s follow attempt failed to drop as well. John Harris snatched Dixon’s miss for his sixth offensive board of the contest and was fouled on his way back up to the basket for a 1-and-1 opportunity. The game remained tied after Harris missed the front end from the free-throw line.
In their final possession, the Raiders worked the ball to Latraius Mosley, who calmly sank the go-ahead jumper from the right elbow with 12.6 seconds left for his game-high 22nd and 23rd points of the contest. Down by a basket, the Lions called a timeout to set up the game’s final play, which was defended well by the eventual winners resulting in Alexander’s desperation three-point attempt as the horn sounded.
Rebounding from Wednesday’s 72-58 setback to Navarro College (TX), the Lions jumped out to an 18-10 lead six minutes into the elimination contest and later mounted a 14-point advantage (32-18) on the third of three straight Alexander triples. Northwest Florida State responded with a dozen unanswered points to cut the deficit to two points with five minutes left in the half. The Lions pushed the lead back up to seven points (37-30) on five straight points by reserve guard Joe McCoy, but the Raiders closed out the half with a 9-2 run to tie the score at 39-all by the intermission.
In his final appearance for EMCC, Ware, a former Starkville product, paced the Lions with 22 points after struggling during his first two tournament outings. Alexander followed with 20 points, including 6-of-15 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Harris, another Starkville native playing in his final game for the Red and Black, added 13 points on 6-of-7 shots from the field to go along with his half-dozen offensive rebounds.
Improving to 30-4 on the season, the Raiders also received 16 points apiece from Bryant, a Mississippi State signee, and Brandon Crawford.
Highlighted by the program’s first national tournament appearance, school-first MACJC North Division men’s title, state runner-up finish and a first-ever men’s national ranking, third-year head coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions completed the 2009-10 hoops campaign with a 27-7 overall record. Lion sophomores Ware, Harris and Terence Bennett helped East Mississippi compile a two-year record of 44-18 during their collective playing days in Scooba.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 19 March 2010 )|
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