By Tony Tsoukalas / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
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.”
Lions make more out of less
Due to a season-ending knee injury to Adrian Edwards and seven suspensions during the Lions trip to Mesa Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout, EMCC was forced to play with only six players Tuesday against East Central.
However, the Lions showed it did not matter in the slightest, as they blew past the Warriors 91-75.
“We were just telling ourselves, we have to play the same we have been playing,” EMCC freshman guard Jacolby Mobley said. “Even without some of our key players, we were still able to come out aggressive and pull the game out.”
EMCC came out hot, shooting 56.9% from the court on the night and taking a 53-30 lead into halftime. The Lions would not slow up in the second half either, as EMCC rallied behind Mobley, who went 15/28 on the night for a game-high 35 points.
“We is just a scoring machine,” EMCC head coach Mark White said. “With Jacolby we have been talking to him a lot. I told him he should never shoot a contested three-point shot because he is just a good driver. He’s been labeled a driver, but he’s a better driver than shooter. That’s just what he did tonight. He drove to the lane and put on a show; they couldn’t stop him,”
The dominance over rival ECCC is something Warrior fans have grown accustomed to under White. The head coach is 12-2 against ECCC, including 11-straight wins over the Warriors.
“It’s great for the school,” White said. “It’s always good to beat East Central and teams that are close by.”
The 0-12 Warriors will travel to Hinds on Monday, while the 7-4 Lions will travel to Meridian where they will once again try to pull off a win with their shortened roster.
“It’s going to be very tough, because the six guys we have are completely worn out,” White said. “Our big thing is that we go really hard and practice, and we are not going to be able to do that tomorrow. We are going to play the way we play, and we are going to stay aggressive and try to do the things we do.”