In the end, Pearl River Community College was unable to make enough plays to pull out an upset, dropping a heartbreaking 73-70 setback at the hands of Mississippi Gulf Coast in men’s basketball action Thursday night at Perkinston.
The Wildcats have lost four of their last five games, falling to 10-5 overall and 2-4 in the MACJC South Division. Gulf Coast, which received votes in this week’s NJCAA rankings, improved to 13-2 and 5-1.
“We didn’t make enough plays at the end,” said PRCC coach Chris Oney. “But I’m proud of our guys for the way they battled. When we got down in the first half, they could have packed it in, but they stepped up and fought back.”
For most of the first half, it looked like another blowout similar to the Wildcats’ debacle against East Central this past Monday, a 27-point drubbing.
PRCC fell behind by 16 points, 40-24, with 4:20 to play in the half. But the Wildcats closed the half on a 13-4 run to trail by just seven points at halftime, 44-37.
Pearl River needed less than five minutes of game time to eat up that deficit, tying the game 50-50 on Rodney Mallet’s 3-point shot with 15:04 to play in the second half. The Wildcats also tied it up at 64-64 on a 3-pointer by Ryan McRaney with 7:43 to play.
But Pearl River could never get the lead, as the Bulldogs always had an answer, pulling ahead each time they were challenged. Still, PRCC had plenty of chances after Winston Morgan put MGCCC ahead 70-64 on back-to-back 3-pointers.
Branden Sheppard sank both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity, then Mallett made it 70-68 with a running jumper with under a minute to go.
Davion Cole-Johnson made one of two foul shots with 44.7 seconds to play to give Gulf Coast a 71-68 lead, but Mallett hit another jumper to close the margin to one point.
With 13.8 seconds remaining, PRCC got a defensive rebound for a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but Mallett’s shot was off the mark, and Tedrian Brisco made a pair of foul shots with 4.8 seconds left for Gulf Coast.
The Wildcats had one final chance, but were unable to get a shot off in time.
Branden Sheppard scored 16 points to lead the Wildcats, Jamani Glover had 12 points, and Mallett and McRaney each added 11 points.
The Wildcats face another road game at 8 p.m. Monday at Copiah-Lincoln before returning home to face Meridian next Thursday.
PRCC BASKETBALL SUMMARY
Thursday at Perkinston
Gulf Coast 73, Pearl River 70
Pearl River 37 33 – 70
Gulf Coast 44 29 – 64
PEARL RIVER (10-5, 2-4 in South Division): Jarrod Rigby 5, Rodney Mallett 11, Ryan McRaney 11, Adrian Williams 2, Cameron Douglas 9, Jamani Glover 12, Branden Sheppard 16.
MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST (13-2, 5-1 in South Division): Jaylen Peters 4, Winston Morgan 14, Harvey Smart 3, Zach Parker 3, Tedrian Brisco 18, Davion Cole-Johnson 17, Stacee St. Julian 6, Qua’Darius Green 8.