Relentless No. 7 Pearl River women hand Itawamba its first loss
Dylan Dunaway ---PRCC Sports Information Director
FULTON, Miss. — The No. 7 Pearl River women's basketball team was relentless on defense and offense Thursday night, and the Wildcats earned a crushing road victory over previously undefeated Itawamba, 75-57.
"We were locked in defensively. Our rotations were good, and we set the tone with our activity on defense," head coach Scotty Fletcher said. "We executed our points of attack on both ends of the court. Anytime you share the ball like we did tonight, your team has a chance to be successful.
"I have a lot of respect for coach (Robin) Porter and her program. They're off to a phenomenal start and they really do a great job.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Pearl River (17-2 overall; 4-0 MACCC) needed to make a statement early on against undefeated Itawamba (16-1; 4-1) and did just that, jumping out to a 12-4 lead almost instantly. Taylor Johnson-Matthews (Cleveland, Ohio; Charles F. Brush) and Tiir Nyok (High Point, N.C.; Southwest Guilford) extended the lead out four more points with a pair of perfect trips to the free-throw line, 16-4.
Johnson-Matthews continued to keep the Wildcats ahead throughout the rest of the quarter. With the score sitting at 17-12, the Wright State transfer put an ICC defender in the spin cycle and laid a ball off the glass for a basket. On the following play, she received a pass down low and was patient to let a defender go by and then lay the ball up, 21-12. Kamren Edwards (Jackson; Murrah) got a corner 3-pointer to fall before the quarter ended, and PRCC carried a 24-14 advantage into the second.
Pearl River crashed the boards heavily and often in the second quarter. The first two plays of the quarter saw Brooklyn Anderson (Greeneville, Tenn.; North Greene) and Johnson-Matthews snatch offensive rebounds and score, 28-14. Momentum remained in PRCC's favor in the quarter, and the Wildcats eventually led 41-24 at the midway point.
Any plans to slow down the Wildcat offense didn't seem to work when the new half began. Johnson-Matthews drove into the lane for a layup to open things up, and on the following play, she knocked down a fadeaway jumper for her 19th point of the night, 45-24. Alexis Arrington (Terry) was huge down the stretch of the quarter, scoring six points before it wrapped up to help the Wildcats carry a 62-37 advantage into the final quarter of the night.
Avery Young's (Iota, La.) jumper was working well in the fourth as she extended the PRCC advantage to 64-40 after nailing a shot despite being fouled. Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) slashed home her second 3-pointer of the evening before Young picked up. Another jumper, 69-40. Itawamba fought to make the game a bit closer, but PRCC still walked away with a dominant 75-57 win.
BY THE NUMBERS
Johnson-Matthews finished with a remarkable 26 points. It was her third game in a row with 20 or more points and her seventh of the season.
"Taylor continues to grow. She's getting more and more comfortable with our offensive and defensive game plans," Fletcher said. "She's an unselfish player, and that continues to show. She's a leader."
Samya Brooks (Pontotoc) was the only other Wildcat in double-digits with 12 points.
"She's established herself inside for our team," Fletcher said. "She's growing and getting more confident. She's in a good place mentally and physically. She knows this team needs her, so she's stepped up."
Young chipped in nine points on the night.
PRCC returns to Marvin R. White Coliseum on Monday for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff against Meridian.
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.