|EMCC downs Pearl River 65-52 in semis; Lions to take on Southern-Shreveport in regional finals|
CLINTON – The 15th-ranked Lions of East Mississippi Community College utilized a game-opening 8-0 spurt to set the tone on the way to claiming a 65-52 win over Pearl River Community College in Friday night’s semifinals of the NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament being held at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Avenging last week’s 66-63 semifinal-round setback to PRCC in the MACJC State Tournament held in Fulton, the top-seeded EMCC Lions advance to meet the 21-7 Jaguars of Southern University at Shreveport (La.) in Saturday’s 8 p.m. championship contest. A rematch of last year’s men’s title tilt won by EMCC, 71-67, the regional finale will follow the women’s 6 p.m. championship game pitting MACJC State Champion Itawamba Community College against Meridian Community College.
In Friday’s regional men’s semis, the Lions’ fast start helped propel the two-time defending NJCAA Region 23 champions to a 25-11 bulge with eight minutes remaining in the opening half. The fifth-seeded Wildcats responded with 11 unanswered points over the next three minutes to cut the deficit to 25-22. With PRCC still within three points (28-25) with 2:45 remaining until the break, sophomores Deon Bedford and Tradarrius McPhearson evenly contributed to EMCC’s 8-0 run over the final 2:06 of the half with a pair of baskets apiece to bump the Lions’ lead back up to double digits (36-25) by the intermission.
Holding the Wildcats to just 22-percent (6-of-27) shooting in the second stanza, including only 1-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc, EMCC managed to maintain its double-digit cushion for the majority of the second half. In getting no closer than eight points following the halftime break, Pearl River was limited to just 30-percent (14-of-47) shooting from the field for the contest.
East Mississippi’s well-balanced offensive game plan was again very evident with four players scoring in double figures. McPhearson tallied 16 of his team-high 17 points in the opening half on 7-of-9 shooting. The former Raymond High School product scored a season-high 18 points last week against Pearl River in the state semifinals.
Sophomore transfer Colin Borchert, of Phoenix, Ariz., recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Playmaker D.J. Evans, of Brandon, followed with 14 points on the heels of his 26-point effort in Thursday’s 78-68 opening-round victory over Jones County. Bedford, a product of West Oktibbeha County High School, added 10 points for the 22-4 Lions.
Ending their season at 15-12 overall, the Pearl River Wildcats were led by Yondarius Johnson’s game-high 19 points. Josh Carpenter added 11 points for PRCC.
Now with eight straight victories in regional play dating back to 2010, head coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions are bidding to become the first team since Northwest Mississippi Community College to collect as many as three consecutive NJCAA Region 23 championships. The Rangers claimed four straight regional men’s basketball titles from 2003 through 2006.
Last season in Clinton, EMCC knocked off East Central (81-74), Pearl River (89-80) and Southern-Shreveport (71-67) to successfully defend its regional title. Two years ago en route to claiming the school’s first-ever men’s basketball regional crown, the Lions defeated Itawamba, 78-64, in the championship contest after beating Northeast Mississippi (86-79) and Hinds (81-74 in OT).
Champions of the Miss-Lou Conference, the third-seeded SUSLA Jaguars earned a spot in their second consecutive NJCAA Region 23 title game with Friday’s 61-57 semifinal-round triumph over 16th-ranked and two-time defending MACJC State Champion Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
The winner of Saturday’s men’s regional championship will advance to participate in the NJCAA Division I Men’s National Basketball Championship, March 20-24, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 10 March 2012 )|
|< Prev||Next >|