SCOOBA, Miss. — Pearl River's women's basketball team took Itawamba to extra time but couldn't come away with the victory Tuesday, falling to ICC 67-66 in the first round of the MACJC Tournament.
Itawamba will play Jones College at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Bobcats defeated Northwest 71-62.
The defeat marks the second straight year PRCC has fallen to ICC in the first round of the MACJC Tournament.
"For us to get here, you wanted to finish and close the deal, especially since we tasted the same feeling last year," Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher said. "We just didn't get one stop. One stop.
"I'm proud of our girls. They fought. I definitely think we have proven that we deserve some respect in this league from where we came from five years ago to now."
OFF AND RUNNING
Pearl River (15-9 overall) took the game to Itawamba early on. Ahead 6-2, Mychala "Pooh" Linzy nailed consecutive 3-pointers sandwiched around an ICC basket to hold a 12-4 advantage.
The Indians (19-5) went on an 8-0 run to tie the game 12-12 at the end of the first quarter.
The Wildcats continued their hot shooting to open the second frame, building a 24-14 lead.
Itawamba responded late in the half, out-scoring PRCC 9-5 in the final minutes but the Wildcats still held a 27-23 lead going into halftime.
Neither team gained much breathing room in the third quarter. The Indians tied the game 30-30 with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter but the Wildcats responded. Smith made a free throw, Linzy hit two, Brieanna Miller (Moss Point) converted a post opportunity and Smith went coast to coast and scored a layup to push the Wildcats back ahead 37-30.
The Indians scored consecutive baskets but Smith nailed a 3-pointer and then Shania Wright (Clinton) scored in the paint to extend PRCC back ahead 42-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Linzy dashed through the teeth of ICC's defense with the shot clock rapidly expiring and converted the layup to extend PRCC's lead to 47-38 with just under 7 minutes remaining in the contest.
Itawamba responded by going on an 8-2 run to pull within three, 49-46, and force Fletcher to call a timeout to regroup his squad.
Harper hit two free throws out of the break to give PRCC a 51-46 lead, but ICC made back to back baskets to pull back within one, 51-50.
Meah Monroe (Reserve, La.; East St. John) converted a big put-back in a crow to give PRCC a 53-50 lad, but ICC responded with an acrobatic layup and immediately called a timeout with 2:44 remaining.
Following a Wright put-back, ICC was sent to the line and made 1 of 2 free throws to trail 55-53.
With PRCC trying to milk as much of the clock as possible, ICC fouled Smith to send her to the free throw line. The sophomore made both buckets to push PRCC back out to a two-possession lead at 57-53.
On ICC's next possession, the Indians dug the ball out of a crowd under the basket to make a basket and then grabbed a PRCC miss on the other end.
ICC worked an and-one attempt with 15 seconds remaining but missed the free throw.
Once PRCC came down with the rebound, Fletcher immediately called a timeout to setup the dramatic finish.
After dribbling six seconds off the clock, Smith was fouled driving down the lane and converted both of her free throws to give the Wildcats a 59-57 edge.
ICC got off a desperation layup in the waning moments of regulation, however, to force overtime.
The Indians opened the extra frame with two baskets. An and-one from Smith and another baseline drive from the Picayune sophomore kept PRCC within one, 65-64.
Wright then hit both free throws with 23.3 seconds remaining, but the Indians maneuvered through the lane to score the go-ahead bucket with nine seconds remaining.
Haper heaved up a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it rattled off the rim and out.
"We were one stop away. That's the bottom line; we were one stop away," Fletcher said. "I hate it for our girls, our program and our institution because I know how bad we wanted to win and how hard it is to get to this point."
Smith had one of her best performances of the season, scoring 28 points with nine rebounds and six assists. Linzy scored 11 points before fouling out in the final minutes of regulation. Wright earned a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"I want to give a special shoutout to those sophomores," Fletcher said. "Coach (Chelsee) Black did a really good job of recruiting them and they came in and bought in to what we're asking them to do. They have elevated our program.
"It's devastating to lose, but I'm really proud of these girls."