POPLARVILLE, Miss. – Who says sequels don't make for better stories?
Pearl River used a combination of two big runs, a frustrating defense and clutch free throw shooting to knock off East Central 61-56 at Marvin R. White Coliseum. The outcome avenged an earlier 75-67 overtime loss in Decatur where the Lady Wildcats let a late lead slip away.
"It was imperative we protect home court. We did that tonight. Our freshmen grew up. They went from cats to Lady Wildcats; not only did we bark, we did a little biting tonight," PRCC Coach Scotty Fletcher said. "From Day 1 I have said don't ask me to lower my expectations to meet your standards. You raise your standards to meet our expectations. Tonight, the Lady Wildcats raised their standards to meet our expectations as a coaching staff. I can't be more excited."
There were a number of areas that stood out on the stat sheet to Fletcher but where PRCC (13-5 overall, 6-3 MACJC) shined was its hustle.
"We made them work and earn every possession," Fletcher said. "I challenged them to play harder than East Central tonight. That was my biggest thing. Make sure we play harder than them — don't let them play harder than us."
PRCC methodically built an 18-14 first quarter advantage, led by two 3-pointers from Gabby Brown (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Choctaw).
The Lady Wildcats didn't ease up in the second frame, building a 10-point advantage at one point before taking a 31-23 lead into halftime.
The second half ended up being all about runs. The Lady Wildcats broke out first, using a six-point run to build their largest lead of the game at 39-26. ECCC (14-4, 5-4) responded with a sizeable run to pull within three at 36-39.
Both teams traded baskets early in the fourth before PRCC put together its final run of the game. The highlight of the stretch came with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game when Elexis Peyton (Jackson; Provine) missed her second free throw. Olivia Mosley (Pearl) grabbed the rebound circled around into the corner and found a wide open Mychala "Pooh" Linzy (Clinton) at the top of the arc. The freshman guard seamlessly caught & released the ball, pushing PRCC's advantage to 55-46.
The game bogged down with free throws in the final minute as East Central tried to claw back into the contest.
Clinging to a narrow advantage, PRCC made 4 of 6 free throws in the final 27 seconds to ice the victory.
LEADING THE WAY
Propelled by eight points from the line, Linzy led PRCC with 16 points. One game after being shutout from the scoresheet, Peyton had a bounce-back offensive showing with 12 points. Jakia Harper was third on the squad with nine points.
Mosley was active on the glass for PRCC, pulling down nine rebounds to lead the Lady Wildcats. Peyton was second on the team with seven.
Pearl River is back in action Thursday with a road trip to rival No. 6 Jones College. Tip is set for 5:30 p.m. PRCC returns home next Monday for a 5:30 p.m. tilt against Hinds.
Tune into WRJW 1320 AM for all conference games for Carey Meitzler's call of the action. All home games are live streamed at PRCCAthletics.com. Anyone with a Roku device can also watch the game by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from the app store.