|EMCC Lions stop Southern-Shreveport 63-49 to three-peat as NJCAA Region 23 champions|
CLINTON –East Mississippi Community College held its second straight tournament opponent to less than 30 percent shooting, as the 15th-ranked Lions claimed their third consecutive NJCAA Region 23 Men’s Basketball Tournament championship with a 63-49 victory over Southern University at Shreveport (La.) in Saturday night’s title game held at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Improving to 23-4 on the season, East Mississippi becomes the first team to win as many as three consecutive NJCAA Region 23 men’s titles since Northwest Mississippi Community College earned four straight regional crowns from 2003 through 2006. Coach Mark White’s EMCC Lions now prepare to make their third consecutive appearance in the NJCAA Division I Men’s National Basketball Championship, March 20-24, in Hutchinson, Kan.
One night after holding Pearl River to only 29.8 percent (14-of-47) shooting, including just 22 percent (6-of-27) in the second half, in their 65-52 semifinal-round triumph over the Wildcats, the top-seeded EMCC Lions upgraded their stingy defensive numbers in the title tilt. The third-seeded Southern-Shreveport Jaguars managed but 4-of-24 (16.7%) field-goal shooting in the second half and only 27.7 percent (13-of-47) for the game. Including their 78-68 opening-round win over the Jones County Bobcats on Thursday, the EMCC Lions collectively held their three regional opponents to a mere 31.4 percent (49-of-156) from the field.
After a somewhat slow start offensively, EMCC received a much-needed lift from its bench to recover from an early 8-2 deficit four minutes into the championship contest. Back-to-back buckets by Deon Bedford gave the Lions their first lead of the game midway through the half. After going up by as many as eight points twice late in the half, EMCC went into the locker room with a 30-25 halftime lead.
Southern-Shreveport, champions of the Miss-Lou Conference, proved resilient in the second half, cutting the EMCC lead to two points on a pair of occasions. A 3-pointer by Olivier Siewe made it 32-30, but the Lions responded with seven unanswered points to build the margin back up to nine points (39-30) by the 13:24 mark. A subsequent 11-4 run by the Jaguars, fueled by back-to-back 3-pointers by Corey Blake, knocked the deficit back down to a basket (43-41) with 8:01 remaining in the game.
Following a pair of D.J. Evans free throws, the next dozen EMCC points were scored by non-starters. Over the final eight minutes of the game, the Lions outscored Southern-Shreveport, 20-8, en route to the solid 14-point victory and a second straight regional title game win over the Jaguars. A year ago in Clinton, EMCC posted a 71-67 triumph over Southern-Shreveport in the NJCAA Region 23 championship contest.
For the second straight night, East Mississippi had four players score in double figures. Bedford, a product of West Oktibbeha County High School, led the way for the Lions with 16 points on 7-of-9 accuracy from the field. Sophomore forward Colin Borchert, of Phoenix, Ariz., recorded his second straight double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Evans and backcourt mate Tradarrius McPhearson each added 11 points for the winners.
Blake scored nearly one-half of Southern-Shreveport’s team total with a game-high 23 points. Siewe and Tydrick King followed with seven points apiece for the 21-8 Jaguars.
With a composite three-year record of 75-16 (.824) dating back to 2009-10, the EMCC Lions will again represent District 15 in the upcoming NJCAA Division I Men’s National Basketball Championship in Kansas. They will be paired with the District 5 representative, comprising the West Texas region and the state of New Mexico, which will be the winner of Sunday’s championship game between undefeated and top-ranked South Plains College (Texas) and Howard College (Texas). EMCC’s opening-round contest will be Game 1 of the tournament to be played at 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday, March 20, at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
All tournament games will air live on NJCAA TV, powered by iHigh.com, at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com.
|Last Updated ( Sunday, 11 March 2012 )|
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