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 January 24, 2014

Goodman, Miss. – Aushiana Ivy knew the large significance of Thursday’s game at Holmes Community College and delivered one of her best performances of the 2013-14 season to date.

The Tupelo native scored a career-high 33 points to go with nine rebounds, but a make from half court as the buzzer sounded by Carmesha Nalls gave the Lady Bulldogs a 79-76 victory over Northeast Mississippi Community College at Frank Branch Coliseum.

“It was very important to me because we needed this game to boost ourselves up in the district,” said Ivy. “I felt like if I was to step up, we all would step up and hopefully get a good outcome.”

One of the craziest contests of the year featured thirteen lead changes, eleven of them in the opening half, and nine ties as both squads went back-and-forth in a very competitive Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division outing.

Two three-pointers in a row by the Lady Tiger combination of Jasmine Allen and Lexy Lindsey gave Northeast a 39-32 advantage with 4:10 remaining before halftime.

Holmes began a 14-0 run from that point, though, that lasted into the second period. Nalls had five points in that stretch and a Jamieca Sheriff layup put the Lady Bulldogs up 44-39 at the intermission.

Daisha Williams stopped the Holmes spurt with a trey shortly into the latter half, but the Lady Bulldogs maintained their lead and extended it to as much as 11 points at 69-58 following a Taylor Johnson lay in with 6:37 to go in the matchup.

However, the Lady Tigers (6-10, 1-4) found their groove over the next 4 minutes, 35 seconds and scored 13 of the next 15 points.

Williams started the offensive outpouring with another three-pointer. Ivy then dropped in seven quick points to bring Northeast within one possession of retaking the lead.

Antionette Riddle did the rest with two baskets off Holmes turnovers to put the Lady Tigers ahead 74-71 with under two minutes showing on the clock.

“They are a resilient bunch,” Northeast head coach Brian Alexander said of his group. “They could have laid down at any stretch. I really don’t know what to say other than I’m proud of them.”

The Lady Bulldogs (5-11, 2-3) tied the contest on a Tayanna Purnell shot from behind the arc with 48 seconds left before Nalls drained her miracle attempt to determine the outcome.

“I’m not happy with the loss. We’ve told the girls this is a business trip and the only objective that mattered was getting the win,” said Alexander. “This one is going to sting a little bit, hurt a little bit, but we’re not going to be discouraged or depressed.”

Nalls tied Ivy with a game-best 33 points. Purnell tallied a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Holmes while Johnson scored 10.

Three other Lady Tigers joined Ivy in double figures, including Riddle with 12. It is the Tupelo High School alum’s eleventh straight outing to have 10 or more points.

Allen and Williams recorded 10 points apiece. The Lady Tigers forced 22 turnovers on 14 steals, five of them by Ivy. 

(M) Holmes 79, Northeast 67

After not participating in the opening half, Cannon Edwards came off the bench after the break on a mission for the Tigers.

Edwards notched a career-high 17 points in a gymnasium that the Petal product attended summer basketball camps at as a child.

“This was almost like a home court to me,” he said. “I felt pretty hot tonight. I had to try to get my team back in to the game.”

Northeast used a spurt of eight straight points, started by a nice one-hand dunk from Reggie Patterson and capped with a Darius Leach steal and layup, to push in front 17-14 in the opening quarter.

The Bulldogs (10-5, 2-2) responded with a 15-3 run to close the first. Justin McCleary hit a big trey in that stretch as Holmes led 31-22 at halftime.

Florida State University signee Dayshawn Watkins accounted for seven straight points as the Bulldogs extended their advantage to as much as 50-29 with 14:50 remaining after two Rodriques Palmer free throws.

But the Tigers would put together a major threat to Holmes the remainder of the matchup. Back-to-back-to-back threes from Edwards signaled the start of Northeast’s come-from-behind effort.

Tyre Mallard had a nice tip in on an offensive rebound and Edwards was nothing-but-net on three free shots to cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to 56-47.

Moments later, Keldrick Lesley connected from beyond the arc to get the Tigers (3-13, 0-5) within 56-50 with 7:53 to play.

Northeast stayed within two possessions of the lead for the next six minutes, but late shots from Travis Johnson and Palmer allowed Holmes to secure the triumph.

“I saw a lot of things in some of our guys that I’ve been seeing all preseason that we just haven’t carried over into games,” said Tigers headman Cord Wright. “So it was a very positive side to see some of that stuff.

“Hopefully this is something we can build off of and finally get a league win.”

Al Azulphar set another career-best number in total points with 19. The center from Norwalk, Conn., was 7 of 8 from the field and a perfect 5 of 5 from the charity stripe.

Azulphar also brought in a game-high 11 rebounds for his third double-double in the last five outings.

Lesley also hit double figures with 10 points for the Tigers.

Palmer topped the Bulldogs with 15 points while Watkins completed a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists. Tamarico Wilson (13) and Ondarious Hamlin (11) joined Palmer and Watkins in double digits.

Northeast returns to the friendly confines of Bonner Arnold Coliseum on Monday, January 27 when Mississippi Delta Community College comes to visit. Women’s tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow as the first part of MACJC North Division play comes to a close.

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