East MS Lions improve to 2-0 in division hoops play with 70-66 home victory over Holmes

photo  EMCC Athletics
photo EMCC Athletics

SCOOBA – The EMCC Lions improved to 2-0 in MACJC North Division play by claiming a 70-66 home win over visiting Holmes Community College during Thursday's action played at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.  In women's play, the Lady Lions won their sixth straight game and also moved to 2-0 within the division with a 55-36 victory over the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lions initially responded to an early 4-0 deficit by scoring a dozen unanswered points to jump out to a 12-4 lead five minutes into the men's nightcap.  Midway through the opening half, EMCC then scored nine straight points to grab a 27-14 lead by the 6:28 mark on the way to maintaining a 33-26 halftime advantage.

Following the break, Jakorie Smith's back-to-back baskets to begin the second stanza sparked a 12-0 run that extended EMCC's cushion to 19 points (45-26) five minutes into the half.  The Bulldogs responded with 10 unanswered points to pull to within nine points before cutting deeper into the deficit later in the half.

After Holmes trimmed the margin to five points on a couple of occasions, Donte Powers came up big for the Lions with 1:35 remaining in the game by recovering a loose ball and then beating the shot clock buzzer with a 3-pointer to make it a 61-53 contest.  The teams then traded scores during subsequent alternating possessions down the stretch before Holmes' Kaleb Higgins drained a 3-pointer during the closing seconds to make it a one-possession game at 69-66.  With just 2.5 ticks left in regulation, Powers sealed the victory by hitting the second free throw of a two-shot foul.

Smith, a product of three-time reigning Class 4A state champion Raymond High School, notched the third 20-point outing of his freshman season by scoring a game-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 accuracy from beyond the three-point arc, against the Bulldogs.  Powers, out of Starkville, finished with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Memphis' Arecko Gipson Jr. added 10 points and five rebounds for Coach Billy Begley's 9-4 EMCC Lions.

Dropping to 8-4 overall on the year in their division opener, the Bulldogs were led by Higgins' 15 points.  Josiah Lewis and Brandon Weatherspoon followed with 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Holmes.    

The Lady Lions opened the night by scoring the first 12 points of the women's contest on the way to holding down a 17-2 advantage by the end of the opening quarter.  Holmes battled back to cut the deficit to four points (21-17) late in the second quarter before EMCC scored the last five points of the half to take a 26-17 halftime lead.

Following intermission, the visitors pulled to within three points (26-23) by scoring six unanswered points to open the second half.  Consecutive offensive put-back baskets by EMCC freshman Ja'Mia Hollings then helped the Lady Lions secure a 33-27 lead by the conclusion of a low-scoring third quarter.

EMCC reestablished control of the contest early in the fourth quarter when sophomore Tye Metcalf followed a coast-to-coast basket with a 3-pointer to give the home team a 14-point cushion (44-30).  The reigning all-conference guard then drilled four consecutive free throws to cap an 8-0 run at the end of the game that finalized the Lady Lions' 19-point triumph.

Metcalf, out of Southaven, finished with a game-high 19 points for Coach Sharon Thompson's 11-2 EMCC Lady Lions.  The winners also received double-double efforts from Hollings and sophomore Maddie Riley.  Hollings, from West Point, recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four steals.  Riley's 10 points and dozen boards marked her eighth career double-double and second of the season.

Falling to 4-8 overall on the season in dropping their division opener, the Holmes Lady Bulldogs were led by Brysa Maxwell's 10 points and seven rebounds.  Shawanda Gray and Gabrielle Bunch followed with eight and seven points, respectively, for the visitors.

The East Mississippi basketball teams will wrap up their current week-long hoops home stand by playing host to the Tigers of Coahoma Community College Monday evening on the Scooba campus.  A 5:30 p.m. women's contest will be followed by a 7:30 p.m. men's game at EMCC's Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.