NEW ORLEANS — Pearl River had a rough start to the new year Tuesday. Opening 2020 at Delgado before diving back into MACJC play, the Wildcats trailed after the first quarter and again at the halfway mark.
Coach Scotty Fletcher rallied the squad at the break and thanks in large part to a 20-point third quarter, PRCC (6-3 overall) cruised to a 62-42 victory at the Williamson Center.
"I didn't panic, I just felt like we did everything wrong," Fletcher said of the team's woeful start, particularly when it pertained to executing the little things. "Our bench energy was good and our effort was good, but there were critical block-outs that we missed; we allowed them to enter the ball inside; and didn't have great ball pressure.
"I know this is going to sound crazy but I was glad to see us go down at half because I felt like that was our worst half of basketball we've played in my five years here. For us to bounce back after being down like that, the girls knew they didn't play good. I told them we need to have amnesia and forget about that half and they did."
The Wildcats trailed Delgado (4-9) 17-15 after one and then 28-26 going into halftime.
Pearl River came out of the break in a groove, using a 6-0 run to build a 34-28 advantage and never looked back.
The Wildcats' run was aided by stellar defense as PRCC held DCC to just six points in the third and eight in the fourth.
Fletcher credited improved half-court defense and traps for his team's ability to flip the script on the Dolphins.
That improved defense transitioned to easy buckets.
Consecutive coast-to-coast steals from Maliyah Bullard (Pass Christian) and Mychala "Pooh" Linzy (Clinton) helped push PRCC's lead to 40-34 with 2:04 remaining in the third.
The Wildcats didn't let up down the stretch, continuing to build their lead. With a 56-42 lead in the final minutes, Linzy and Otashae Burrage (Carthage; Leake County) knocked down 3-pointers to close out the 20-point victory.
Linzy once again led PRCC in the scoring column with a game-high 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting thanks to six made 3-pointers.
Burrage stepped up for PRCC, scoring 11 points with four rebounds and a team-high five assists.
"You put her out there in a starting role and she goes for 11 points," Fletcher said. "We tell our girls all the time they have to be shot ready and she was."
Alanna Smith (Picayune) was the team's third leading scorer with 10 points.
Linzy and Shania Wright (Clinton) tied for the team lead with six rebounds apiece.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Pearl River won their earlier meeting with Delgado, 81-53. The season sweep gives PRCC's women 14 straight wins over the Dolphins.
The Wildcats return to action Thursday with a home matchup against MACJC foe East Central. Tip at Marvin R. White Coliseum is set for 5:30 p.m.
"We're going to have a dog fight Thursday — and I mean a dog fight," Fletcher said.
All PRCC home competitions are streamed live at PRCCMedia.com/gold.
Games will also be broadcast on WRJW 1320 AM, WRJWRadio.com and on the WRJW smart phone app.
Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store.