February 24, 2010 8:32:00 AM
SCOOBA -- The top eight seeds have advanced to today''s semifinals of the MACJC State Basketball Tournament, as all four No. 1 and 2 women''s seeds prevailed Tuesday in opening-round women''s action at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.
In Tuesday''s nightcap, which was a rematch of last year''s NJCAA Region 23 championship contest, the No. 3 nationally ranked Lady Wolves of Copiah-Lincoln remained unbeaten (24-0) with a 73-65 victory against East Mississippi Community College.
Prior to Tuesday, the EMCC women were the last team to beat Co-Lin (52-43 last year in the regional title game at Mississippi College in Clinton).
That victory sent the Lady Lions to the NJCAA Tournament for the first time since 1978.
This season, coach Sharon Thompson''s Lady Lions stayed with the Lady Wolves for the first 30 minutes before Co-Lin used a 10-0 run to take a 58-51 lead with nine minutes remaining.
After trailing 32-31 at halftime, EMCC (14-12) battled Co-Lin to six second-half deadlocks before the visitors went on their momentum-swinging run.
Freshman guard Natalie Tate, of Columbus, gave the Lady Lions a brief 51-48 lead, but Co-Lin''s Nadia Collins answered with a 3-pointer just under the 11-minute mark to spark the Lady Wolves'' run. The Lady Lions didn''t score again until Shelby Crawford hit a jumper with less than nine minutes left.
With 1:40 rremaining, sophomore forward Martika Hull converted a three-point play to pull EMCC to 68-63. However, the home team couldn''t convert on a 3-pointer and committed a costly turnover shortly thereafter to seal its fate.
Hull, a MACJC All-North State performer by way of Southeast Lauderdale, had a game-high 26 points, including 6-of-9 shooting in the second half, and added a career-best 17 rebounds. Sophomore Raona Stowers, of Noxubee County High School, added a season-high 12 points, while Tate finished with 10.
Rachel Vigers led Copiah-Lincoln with 19 points, followed by Brandi Simmons and Latoria Holder with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
In other women''s first-round action, No. 2 North seed Itawamba beat Southwest Mississippi, 69-55, to earn the right to meet Co-Lin at 5:30 p.m. today in the semifinals.
Tuesday''s women''s action began with the Jones County, the defending state champions, rallying for an 89-78 overtime win against Mississippi Delta. The second-seeded JCJC Lady Bobcats will meet North Division champion Northwest Mississippi, which defeated East Central 80-74, at noon today.
In men''s action, today''s semifinals will feature South Division champion and No. 25 Pearl River C.C. against No. 2 North seed Itawamba C.C. at 2 p.m., followed by No. 12 EMCC against No. 2 South seed and reigning state champion Jones County at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday''s championships will be at 5:30 p.m. (women''s) and 7:30 p.m. (men''s).