UTICA, Miss. — The word of the day for Pearl River women's basketball team was "determination" and the Wildcats embodied the word Monday as they locked down Hinds for a 54-39 victory inside J.D. Boyd Gym.
PRCC sweeps the season series after defeating the Bulldogs 51-44 earlier in the season. The victory was also PRCC's fourth straight over Hinds.
"I saw a different fight and determination. Tonight was a must win. There's just no way around it," Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher said. "I told them the word of the day is determination. Everything you do tonight has to be determination. You have to be determined to win the one-on-one battles. You have to be determined to keep them out of the paint. You have to be determined to make the right plays. You have to be determined and have a certain level of determination about you. I thought we had that."
Hinds' 39 points was a season-low against a MACJC foe and the Bulldogs' second-lowest output of the season.
"As a head coach, one thing I pride myself on is defense. Tonight was Lady Wildcats defense. I thought we guarded at a high level," Fletcher said. "That's the way we've guarded in the past and we did a phenomenal job of doing that tonight.
"That's something we'll have to carry with us down the road."
Fletcher credited a number of Wildcats for the team's big win.
"Coaches call plays and players make plays," he said. "I thought Pooh was exceptional. I thought Alanna Smith was exceptional. I thought Alanna Turner to start the fourth was absolutely critical. I thought Meah Monroe was critical. I thought Brieanna Miller was critical. Shania Wright was critical.
"When you look around at the girls who played tonight and who contributed tonight, I can't say enough about everybody. I'm very excited."
BACK AND FORTH START
The two teams got off to a slow start Monday, with Pearl River (12-8 overall, 5-6 MACJC South) holding a narrow 10-7 lead after the first quarter.
The scoring picked up a bit in the second quarter, but both teams kept pace with one another for the most part.
Turner (Gulfport; West Harrison) opened the frame with a quick basket. Following a Hinds (2-16, 0-11) bucket, Miller (Moss Point) scored two putbacks in close succession to keep PRCC ahead 16-13.
After another Hinds make, Pearl River closed out the first half strong by scoring five of seven points.
Wright (Clinton) converted a jumper after Hinds turned it over in its own end. Following a Smith (Picayune) made free throw, Monroe (Reserve, La.; East St. John) beat the buzzer with a jumper to give PRCC a 21-17 lead at halftime.
The two teams continued to trade baskets out of the midway point, but a Mychala "Pooh" Linzy (Clinton) 3-pointer with 5:19 remaining in the third pushed the Wildcats' lead to 28-22.
Once again the Wildcats went on a run to close out the frame, scoring seven unanswered points — including a Jakia Harper (Jackson; Provine) 3-pointer to take a 38-24 advantage into the fourth.
PRCC didn't let up early in the fourth. Turner caught fire early in the frame, scoring six straight points for the Wildcats on four free throws and a precise jumper. The run of 13 of 16 extended the Wildcats' lead to 44-27.
Hinds responded with a run of its own, cutting PRCC's lead to 10, 44-34.
AUTOMATIC FROM THE LINE
It wasn't long ago that free throw shooting was a liability for Pearl River.
The Wildcats locked in, focused on their free throw shooting and the extra work showed up Monday as the charity stripe was on Pearl River's side down the stretch.
In the fourth quarter alone, PRCC made all 12 of its free throws to put the game on ice. On the night, the Wildcats only missed two free throws.
Linzy continued to score at a high rate for Pearl River on Monday, leading the Wildcats with 13 points. She also had seven rebounds.
Smith finished second on the team with 12 points. She also had four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Turner rounded out PRCC's leading scorers with eight points. Wright led the Wildcats with 10 rebounds. Miller added seven rebounds.
The Wildcats return to the court Thursday for a road test at rival Gulf Coast. PRCC will host Sophomore Night on Monday against Southwest. Both doubleheaders are set for 5:30 p.m. starts.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home events are broadcast on PRCCAthletics.com and PRCCMedia.com. Anyone who has an Amazon Fire or Roku device can stream PRCC broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" Channel from the app store. Conference games can also be heard on WRJW 1320 AM, WRJWRadio.com or by downloading the WRJW app.