POPLARVILLE – If the Pearl River Community College women are to qualify for the MACJC State Basketball Tournament, it will have to be done on the road.
The Lady Wildcats ran into a second quarter buzz-saw against East Central and never really recovered, suffering a disappointing 64-58 defeat Thursday night at M.R. White Coliseum.
The loss in its home finale for the 2017-18 season dropped PRCC (12-8 overall) into a three-way tie for fifth place in the South Division with Meridian and ECCC (12-8) at 5-7 in division play. The top four teams from each division advance to the state tournament.
Pearl River got exactly what it wanted in the first quarter, holding the Lady Warriors to just 3 of 16 shots from the field while building a 16-8 lead.
But East Central flipped a switch in the second quarter and hardly missed, converting 8 of 14 shots, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range.
The only thing that kept the Lady Wildcats close were a pair of treys from redshirt sophomore Rah Franklin (New Orleans) and one by sophomore Tori Blackmon (Jackson), but they still trailed 34-29 at halftime.
The two teams battled hard through the third quarter, with the Lady Warriors continuing to lead, 44-39, heading into the final period.
Blackmon’s second 3-pointer of the game with 7:52 to play capped a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter and gave the Lady Wildcats at 46-44 lead.
But East Central answered with a tying field goal and a 3-pointer to regain the lead, and the Lady Warriors held on for the win.
Franklin led Pearl River with 12 points, but she was shut out in the second half. Sophomores Charisma Walker (Brandon) and Destiny Williams (Liberty) each had 10 points and 9 rebounds, and sophomore Tyasia Willis (Camden) grabbed 16 rebounds.
The Lady Wildcats will close out the regular season next week with games at Mississippi Gulf Coast on Monday and Copiah-Lincoln on Thursday. Tipoff at Perkinston is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., while the game at Co-Lin begins at 6 p.m.
PRCC BASKETBALL SUMMARY
Thursday at Poplarville
East Central 64, Pearl River 58
ECCC 8 26 10 20 – 64
PRCC 16 13 10 19 – 58
EAST CENTRAL (12-8, 5-7 in South): Autumn Taylor 9, Feria Mays 6, Tamirra Haskin 15, Tan Lloyd 9, Diamond Wraggs 16, Latesia Davis 2, Whitney Waters 7.
PEARL RIVER (12-8, 5-7 in South): Charisma Walker 10 (9 rebounds), Rah Franklin 12, Tyasia Willis 6 (16 rebounds), Gabby Brown 2, Tariah Mouton 3, Cotoria Blackmon 8, Kyla Malone 7, Destiny Williams 10 (9 rebounds).