No. 7 Pearl River drops first MACCC contest
Jaxon Dunaway - PRCC Athletics Intern
PERKINSTON, Miss. — The No. 7 Pearl River women's basketball team suffered a late 74-66 loss in a heavyweight matchup against rival Gulf Coast on Thursday night. The loss was PRCC's first in conference play.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Off the back of Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Cleveland, Ohio; Charles F. Brush), Pearl River (18-3 overall; 5-1 MACCC) fell just short of rival Gulf Coast (13-4; 6-1). The teams slugged it out in a back-and-forth affair that brought star players into the limelight.
In typical fashion, Johnson-Matthews opened the game with a quick jumper off the right side. The Wildcats pressed early, intercepting passes and sending MGCCC scrambling. PRCC did a fantastic job of getting rebounds, both offensively and defensively. Pearl River opened an early 7-2 gap, but Gulf Coast fought back with a run, making the score 8-7 in its favor. This became a recurring theme throughout the contest.
Alexis Arrington (Terry) picked up a smooth, running floater that landed directly into the basket before Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) knocked down the first 3-pointer of the contest by getting in transition and beating defenders off the right side. The first quarter ended close but favored the Wildcats, 17-14.
Shortly into the second frame, Johnson-Matthews went charging inside before dishing the ball back out and into the hands of Fielder, who notched her second 3-pointer. This set the score at 24-18, PRCC. Later in the quarter, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run, complete with a screen that allowed an open layup for Johnson-Matthews. Marley Freeman (Brandon) was on the assist. The half closed at 33-29, Wildcats.
The third quarter began with a couple of scoreless minutes before a basket rolled around and fell for the Bulldogs. Johnson-Matthews answered by executing a quick spin and rolled in a basket off the rim from the right side. After an MGCCC jumper, Fielder hit a big-time 3-pointer to set the score at 38-33 PRCC. The five-point separation felt huge in the tight contest. Shortly after, Johnson-Matthews followed up with a 3-pointer of her own. This time, with a long shot straight away from the basket.
The teams continued to exchange blows as the Bulldogs fought back, eventually taking the lead, 42-41. In the quarter's final seconds, Johnson-Matthews found an open lane and beat the buzzer with a quick flashing layup. The quarter ended 51-48 Wildcats.
The final quarter opened suspensefully, as scoring was back-and-forth. With only five minutes left, the game was knotted up at 59-59 after an MGCCC fast-break layup. The Bulldogs opened the scoring on a run and shifted all momentum their way, 68-60.
In the dying moments, The Wildcats' Tiir Nyok (High Point, N.C.; Southwest Guilford) produced a clean play, driving towards the basket on the right side and dishing left for a Samaya Brooks (Brooks) layup. Brooks was then fouled and converted two from the free throw line, 70-64, Bulldogs.
The teams further exchanged fouls and free throws, but it was ultimately too late for Pearl River as MGCCC took the contest 74-66.
BY THE NUMBERS
Johnson-Matthews led the team with 28 points. She was 9-for-12 on free throw attempts. Brooks 11 totaled points. She was 3-for-4 on free throws. Arrington recorded 10 points while going 2-for-3 from the free-throw line. Fielder scored nine points with three 3-pointers.
The Wildcats return home on Monday to face off against Northwest Mississippi. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
All home Pearl River basketball games are livestreamed for free at PRCCMedia.com/Gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the "Pearl River CC" channel from their app stores.
Games will also be available over the air in Pearl River County by tuning into 1320-AM and 106.9 FM. The radio broadcast is also available at WRJWRadio.com and by downloading the WRJW app.
To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices will be cashless in 2023-24. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted at the box office. Fans are encouraged to beat the lines and purchase their tickets in advance at PRCCAthletics.com/Tickets.