March 16, 2011 9:09:00 AM
HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- The East Mississippi Community College men''s basketball team played from behind throughout its opening-round contest of the NJCAA Division I Championship on the way to a 76-66 loss to Southeastern Community College (Iowa) on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.
Making its second straight appearance in the national tournament, coach Mark White''s team fell behind 9-2 three minutes into the game and could never catch the unranked Blackhawks (28-7).
With 10-point leads on four occasions late in the opening period, SCC led 42-34 at halftime.
EMCC used an 8-2 run in the first three minutes after halftime to cut the deficit to 44-42. However, SCC''s Mason Leggett followed a jumper with another made basket after a steal to bump the margin to 48-42 with 14 minutes, 49 seconds remaining.
The Lions (25-4) pulled to within 63-59 at the 5:18 mark following consecutive buckets by freshman point guard D.J. Evans. Unfortunately, EMCC couldn''t keep the momentum going, as it was slowed by three straight empty possessions. The Blackhawks capitalized by scoring seven unanswered points to extend the lead to 70-59 with three minutes remaining. The Lions didn''t get any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
EMCC will take on Western Wyoming Community College at 10 a.m. Thursday in a consolation contest.
All-Region 23 sophomore guard Deonte Alexander had a game-high 21 points. Fellow All-Region performer Jonathan King added 15 points before fouling out with 3:40 left to play.
The Blackhawks had four players score in double figures, led by Jordan Aaron''s 20 points. All-Region standouts Paris Gulley and Mansa Habeeb followed with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Southeastern will meet Shelton State (Ala.) at 8 tonight in the quarterfinals of the championship bracket.
All games at the NJCAA Division I Men''s Basketball Championship can be viewed live on NJCAA TV (www.njcaa.org/tv) and PSB Live (www.psblive.com). The NJCAA will video stream the entire tournament through its broadcasting partner Panhandle Sports Broadcasting.
Fans also will be able to follow the five-day tournament by visiting www.njcaabbtrny.org to access live statistics, game results, and additional information about the tournament.