Alexander and the Northeast Mississippi Community College women’s basketball team pressured the Lady Tigers into 33 turnovers, 20 of them in the opening half, in a 77-67 victory at Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
“That’s a big deal and it’s something we shouldn’t overlook,” said Alexander, Northeast’s third-year head coach. “We should make sure that’s a positive in our girls’ minds because that doesn’t happen everyday.”
Coahoma mistakes were a key part in a stretch of 20 straight points by the Lady Tigers near the end of the first period that put Northeast in command of the contest.
The spurt started innocently enough with two Daisha Williams free throws with 5:30 remaining to cut the visiting Lady Tigers’ advantage to 24-22.
Antionette Riddle tied things up and then put Northeast in front for good at the 2:46 mark with back-to-back baskets.
Aushiana Ivy stole the ball moments later, one of four Coahoma errors during the run, and Williams converted it with an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Lady Tigers their first double-digit advantage at 32-22.
Before two makes at the charity stripe by Gabrielle Gilbert ended the amazing streak by Northeast, Coahoma was held scoreless for a span of 5 minutes, 28 seconds to allow the home standing Lady Tigers to take a 40-26 lead in to the locker room.
“That probably was the key part of the game,” Alexander said. “Our defensive pressure was really good and we were able to push ahead.”
Coahoma (1-12, 0-5) attempted to comeback multiple times in the second half and came as close as 40-35 with 16:56 to play after an Antoinette Mayfield make.
However, Jasmine Allen and Williams drained two shots in a row from behind the arc to quell that threat and the Lady Tigers came no closer to Northeast’s lead.
“That’s a credit to the character of our girls and what they’re about,” said Alexander. “I’m just really pleased with them and we’re going to keep working.”
Riddle recorded her first double-double for the Lady Tigers with 26 points and 10 rebounds, both career-highs for the sophomore guard from Tupelo.
“It was a game that I was mentally focused on,” she said. “I’ve been working constantly on finishing because I’m getting a lot of touches in the paint. So that’s what I’m trying to do, just make sure I make them.”
Ivy added 11 points while Teresa Mays tallied 10 to contribute to the first Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division win of the 2013-14 campaign for Northeast (6-9, 1-3).
“This is a very, very big deal,” said Riddle. “We take all of our division games very seriously and this is another step as we climb up the ladder.”
Twenty-two of Coahoma’s 33 forced turnovers were from Lady Tiger steals. Kiki Gwyn topped that category with seven, a season-best for the Kossuth High School alumnus.
Coahoma was held to 23.1 percent from three-point range. Gilbert led her squad with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Ariel Jones scored 14 and Krystal Pearson notched 12.
(M) Coahoma 72, Northeast 64
Keldrick Lesley came out of the intermission on fire for the Tigers and knocked down their first three baskets in the second half.
Two treys and a layup from the Booneville native extended Northeast’s lead to 43-32 with 17:07 remaining in the matchup.
Ben Seely gave the Tigers their biggest advantage moments later with a nice field goal down low, but Coahoma (5-10, 3-2) found the shooters touch from that point on.
The guests scored 17 of the next 22 points and took the lead at 55-54 on a Markevius Brown three-pointer.
Northeast hung close with buckets from Al Azulphar and Chris Echols in the waning moments of the contest, but the Tigers hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the triumph.
The Tigers (3-12, 0-4) outshot their adversary by 17 percent and were a yearly best 54.5 percent from the floor.
Azulphar headed the effort with 14 points, his fourth straight outing to reach double figures. The Norwalk, Conn., product also totaled eight rebounds and blocked another shot to extend his league-high number in that category to 46.
Reggie Patterson contributed two as Northeast matched its average in blocks per matchup with five, the best of any member of the MACJC.
Three other Tigers were just shy of the double-digit mark, including Cannon Edwards (nine), Lesley (nine) and Ladarius Waits (seven).
Brown led all scorers with 22 points. Robert Jordan (14) and Trey Allen (13) were key players for Coahoma off the bench.
Northeast ends a stretch of two out of three games on the road this Thursday (January 23) when they trek to Holmes Community College. Women’s tipoff from Frank Branch Coliseum in Goodman is set for 6 p.m. with the men to follow.