POPLARVILLE Branita Malone banged in the a bucket with just over a second remaining here Thursday to propel Pearl River Lady Wildcats to a 52-51 MACJC South Division victory over arch-rival Mississippi Gulf Coast. Malone game-winning basket, off an assist from point guard Toy Johnson, pumped PRCC women to 10-4 overall and 4-1 in division play. Just seconds earlier, MGCCC Ricille Davis swished a pair of one-on-one free throws to put the Lady Bulldogs up 51-50. Pearl River men, on the other hand, fell victim to a talented Bulldog squad 75-64 marking the visitors 11th straight win. The Wildcats dropped to 7-8 and 3-2. Gulf Coast women fell to 9-7 and 3-3, while its men are now 15-2 and perfect in division play at 6-0. In the women contest, the Lady Bulldogs led for most of the first half, but the Lady Cats managed to grab two leads (at the 11:45 and 4:01 marks) and knotted the score twice (at the 4:35 and 3:15 marks) only to trail 22-18 at the break. In the second half, Gulf Coast opened with a 10-5 scoring run to pump its lead to 32-23 its largest of the game in the first five minutes, but Pearl River rallied with a 9-0 surge to snatch a 34-32 edge when Johnson, a sophomore who prepped at Pascagoula High, scored off a turnover with 10:10 remaining. From that point, the score was tied four times with Malone, a sophomore forward who prepped at Choctaw High in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., putting the Lady Wildcats up 36-34 at the 8:35 mark. A basket by Samantha Gunn, a Canton native who prepped at Velma Jackson High, snapped a 40-40 stalemate with 6:27 left and the Lady Wildcats held on to the lead until Davis free throws with eight seconds showing on the clock. Davis led all scorers in the game with 15 points (five rebounds), while Cara Beverlin added 10 (four rebounds), Jeliesa Hicks eight, Yasmine Nelson six (eight rebounds), Shameika Hart five (four steals), Laprecious Thompson three (four rebounds), and Brittany Jones and Seandra Stevens, two each. Gunn paced The River with 14 points (six rebounds), while Malone scored nine and hauled-in a season-and-game-high 14 boards. Quentessa Bullock of East Marion High added eight (five rebounds), Johnson seven (five assists, three steals), Shanta Echols of Sumrall High six, and Alayna Bridges of Oak Grove High, Chaquita McGee of Yazoo City High, Daiquari Raine of Poplarville High, and Shana Ward, an East Central CC transfer from Carthage, two a piece. Gulf Coast hit 65 percent (13 of 20) from the free throw line to Pearl River 53.8 percent (seven of 13), while the Lady Bulldogs were 36.5 percent (19 of 52) from the field to the Lady Wildcats 33.3 percent (22 of 66) effort. MGCCC zilched from three-point range on two attempts, PRCC was one of six (16.7 percent). The River led on the boards with 44 rebounds (15 offensive, 29 defensive) to Mississippi Gulf Coast 41 (eight offensive, 33 defensive), while the Lady Cats committed 15 turnovers to the Lady Dogs 13. In the men game, Pearl River managed to tie it up at 7-7 and 9-9 in the early going and even took the lead over a minute-and-a-half span in the first half before Gulf Coast Jeffrey Simmons banged in a trey at the 8:40 mark then followed with a two to put the Bulldogs up 23-20. That kicked off a impressive 17-4 scoring run that pumped MGCCC lead to 35-24 with 3:16 left before the break. Pearl River outscored MGCCC 7-5 the rest of the way to make it 40-31 at the intermission. The Bulldogs opened the second half with an dominating 21-8 scoring surge to build its lead to 61-39 its largest of the night with 6:08 remaining, but the Wildcats responded with a 25-14 run the rest of the way to cut Gulf Coast lead to 75-64 at the final gun. Angel Matias (seven rebounds) and Simmons (three assists) led MGCCC with game-high 15-point marks, while Justin Childs added 14 (four rebounds, three blocked shots), Ice Asortse and Jeremiah Dunnings (six rebounds, two treys), nine each; Guy Payne five, Darius Forrest four, Bryan Williams three, and Lakendrick Evans two. Daron Bell of Bay High (eight rebounds) and Yondarius Johnson, a Grambling State (La.) transfer from Plain Dealing, La., led PRCC with 10 points each; while Quentin Watkins out of Lanier High in Jackson scored seven, Josh Carpenter of Oak Grove High, Andre McMorris of East Marion High (two treys), and Jeremy Moore out of Jim Hill High in Jackson, six a piece; Zane Knowles, a Grambling State transfer from Nassau, Bahamas, five; Mike Henry of Wayne County High four, Derionne Stewart of Picayune High three, and Will Reid of St. Stanislaus College two. Gulf Coast hit 70 percent (21 of 30) from the free throw line to Pearl River 80.6 percent (25 of 31), while the Bulldogs were 50percent (25 of 50) from the field to the Wildcats 33.3 percent (18 of 54) effort. From three-point range, MGCCC was four of 12 (33.3 percent) to Pearl River three-of-17 (17.5 percent) showing. Miss. Gulf Coast led on the boards with 39 rebounds (12 offensive, 27 defensive) to The River 30 (12 offensive, 18 defensive), while theCats committed 15 turnovers to theDogs 17. The Wildcat squads eye MACJC South Division rematches with MGCCC Monday, Feb. 20, in Perkinston. Pearl River resumes action Monday with a road trip to MACJC South Division rival East Central in Decatur with games set for 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men), then the Lady Wildcats host Alabama Southern CC in a women only match-up Thursday, Feb. 4 (6 p.m. tip-off). Copiah-Lincoln visits Shivers Gymnasium Monday, Feb. 6, for 5 p.m. (women) and 7 p.m. (men) South Division games.
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