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January 9, 2013

Lions opens 2013 with win against rival Warriors

MERIDIAN —     A new year brought new success for the East Mississippi Community College women basketball team, as the Lions came back to beat East Central 67-60 Tuesday night.

    The Lions battled back from a 36-27 deficit at halftime, frustrating the Warriors into turnovers and capitalizing on offensive rebounds throughout the second half.

    “They are a team that really likes to do two things,” EMCC head coach Sharon Thompson said of ECCC. “They like to throw backdoor cuts and throw lobs. They beat us in the first half because they were able to do those things, but in the second half we were able to stop them and force them into turnovers.”

    The Lions gained momentum when freshman guard Nockeyia Qualls drove up court down 46-45 and maneuvered her way in the paint for a layup to put the Lions up 46-45. EMCC would capitalize from there, going on a 7-0 run to lead the Warriors 52-46.

    “That was huge,” Thompson said. “It gave us the lead. It has been a while, I can’t remember the last time we had a lead. That was just huge for us at that point.”

    Qualls finished the night with a game-high 16 points and six assists on the night. The 16 points is the most Qualls has scored in her time at EMCC.

    “It’s been a while since we have been able to get a win,” Qualls said. “It just feels great to kick off the new year with a win.”

The Warriors 4-8 will travel to Hinds on Monday, while the Lions 2-9 will play Meridian at Meridian on Thursday.

    “I told the team, with us being so young it could go two ways,” Thompson said. “We can melt under pressure, or we can play like those great teams like Shelton State and Georgia Highlands. They go out and play, and that’s what we have to do.”

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