|No. 7 EMCC Lions begin defense of their hoops regional title with 81-74 win over East Central|
CLINTON – The seventh-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College successfully began defense of their regional basketball championship with an 81-74 opening-round victory over East Central Monday afternoon at the 2011 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
The seven-point win over the Warriors marked EMCC’s fourth triumph over East Central this season, including last week’s 81-64 first-round victory at the MACJC State Tournament in Wesson. With the win, head coach Mark White’s 22-4 Lions will face 15th-ranked Pearl River – 70-59 first-round winners over Northeast Mississippi - Wednesday at noon in the regional semifinals. The Wildcats claimed a 61-52 victory over EMCC in last week’s state tournament semifinals at Copiah-Lincoln.
Following three early ties in Monday’s regional opener, the top-seeded Lions scored eight unanswered points midway through the half to move ahead 25-16 by the 9:03 mark. Hitting 14-of-23 (61%) from the field in the opening half, including 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc, EMCC took a 42-34 advantage into the halftime break.
After East Central cut the deficit to two points (46-44) three minutes into the second half, EMCC went on a 15-6 run over a seven-minute span to take a double-digit lead (61-50) by the midway point of the period. Continuing their hot shooting in the second stanza, the Lions maintained control of the contest the remainder of the way en route to the first-round win.
Coming off last week’s state tournament loss to Pearl River in which they managed season-low marks in scoring (52 points) and field-goal percentage (32.1%), the Lions finished the afternoon shooting a season-high 63 percent (27-of-43 FGs) from the field overall, including 7-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc, and 77 percent (20-of-26) from the charity stripe.
Freshman Tradarrius McPhearson paced a balanced EMCC scoring attack with a season-high 20 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long range, and 5-of-6 from the line. The former Raymond High School product also handed out five assists and had three steals on the day. A week ago against East Central at the state tournament, McPhearson initially set a new career high with 14 points off the bench.
EMCC sophomore Donovan Walker, of Meridian, followed with 18 points, while Deonte Alexander and Millaun Brown added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners.
Ending the campaign with a 13-12 overall mark, the East Central Warriors put five players in double figures in their season finale. Kenneth Barlow and Curtis Loving led the way with 14 points apiece, followed by Keondre Hodges with a dozen points.
Head coach Sharon Thompson’s EMCC Lady Lions open women's regional play by taking on state tournament runner-up Jones County Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. on the Mississippi College campus.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 28 February 2011 )|
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