No. 10 Pearl River holds No. 20 Shelton State to lowest point total since 2021-22 season
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
BOONEVILLE, Miss. — The No. 10 Pearl River women's basketball team proved Monday evening that it could win with its defense. After averaging 97 points through its first five games, the Wildcats battled to win a defensive game against No. 20 Shelton State, 60-45.
SSCC's 45 points were its least amount scored since Eastern Florida State held it to 45 on March 17, 2022. The victory was PRCC's first over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 14 Jones College on Feb. 3, 2022.
"Shelton is a staple at the National Tournament. They're a championship-caliber team with a Hall of Fame coach," head coach Scotty Fletcher said. "We knew we had to control the glass and be really good defensively. Our goal was to hold them under 50 points, and tonight was the first time we've met our defensive goal. Our team defense and discipline were really good, and we had a relentless effort on the glass, which helped us create baskets.
"I love this team and the growth we are making. It's a true honor to be their coach."
Shelton State (3-3 overall) started things off with a 4-0 run before Pearl River (6-0) found its footing and fought back to take the lead 9-4. The lead was one that PRCC wouldn't relinquish as the Wildcats started to pull away quickly.
Pearl River built out a six-point, 13-7 lead when Mikayla Riley (Tupelo) and Samya Brooks (Pontotoc) knocked down back-to-back layups.
PRCC's lead grew to 23-11 in the second quarter with the help of three straight stellar plays. Brooks delivered a great pass over the left shoulder of a Buccaneers defender to Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Cleveland, Ohio; Charles F. Brush) for a basket. On the ensuing SSCC possession, Riley reacted quickly to pluck a pass out of the air and went coast-to-coast for a layup. Moments later, Avery Young (Iota, La.) found an inch of space and delivered a perfectly lobbed pass to Johnson-Matthews. The Wright State transfer jumped to snag the pass and jumped right back up for the basket.
Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) joined in on the scoring party late in the half as she drained a 3-pointer on the right wing, 33-19. PRCC went into the midway point with an impressive 16-point, 35-19 advantage.
The third quarter of the evening was a defensive battle for both teams as they scored five points apiece to head into the final 10 minutes of action in a 40-24 contest.
Points began to flow for both teams in the fourth quarter as Fielder opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the left side of the court. Shelton State clawed back to cut the Wildcat deficit to 10 points at 43-33 before PRCC started to step on the gas once again.
Riley drew a foul attempting a layup, stepped to the charity stripe and slashed home both of her attempts. The following offensive possession saw Marley Freeman (Brandon) dish off to a wide-open Fielder for another long ball, 48-33.
Roge'Ne' Hillard increased PRCC's advantage to 15 points after receiving a pass into the paint, backing into her defender and tossing a layup off the glass and down for two points, 53-38.
Fielder added yet another 3-pointer late in the contest. She worked her way into the corner, and Johnson-Matthews fired a pass from inside the paint out to the sophomore guard. She caught it and fired the ball through the rim, 58-43.
Johnson-Matthews added PRCC's final basket of the evening with a layup late in the contest, and Pearl River walked away with an impressive 60-45 victory over Shelton State.
Johnson-Matthews had another incredible night for the Wildcats, scoring 17 points.
"Taylor is really coming into her own," Fletcher said. "She's doing a phenomenal job in our offense and is taking quality shots. She's a multi-dimensional player. That was the most minutes she's played this year, so it was good to see her stay in rhythm."
Riley added 14 big points for Pearl River, and Fielder rounded out the Wildcats in double-digits with 12.
"Big-shot Fielder is what we were calling her tonight," Fletcher said. "It felt like every time they cut it to 10 points, Hama'ya answered."
Pearl River concludes the Northeast Mississippi Thanksgiving Classic on Tuesday at noon against MACCC foe Coahoma. The game will be livestreamed at NEMCCTV.com.