Smothering defense pushes Pearl River men past Coahoma
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The Pearl River men's basketball team knew that it had to lock in defensively Monday night, and the Wildcats showed up and showed out. PRCC defeated visiting Coahoma 76-48 in the first MACCC game of the campaign. The Tigers had averaged over 90 points per game before the Wildcats held them to a season-low 48 points.
"We started out a little uptight, and I think that knocked us off our rhythm," head coach Chris Oney said. "I saw the way we were playing defense, and I knew we were in for a good night. It reminded me a little bit of the way we used to play defense here."
Things started off slow between Pearl River (14-2 overall; 1-0 MACCC) and Coahoma (8-2; 0-1) as nearly six minutes into the contest the score was only 6-6. The Wildcats didn't start to stretch out a lead until 10:52 remaining on the clock. Davion James (Brandon; Northwest Rankin) was sent to the baseline to inbound the ball. He made a good decision to find Cedquavious Hunter (Como; North Panola), who caught the pass and immediately nailed the jumper, 17-12.
The Ta'Zir Smith (Woodbridge, Va.; Virginia Academy) takeover began with 5:50 remaining in the half. Following a perfect trip to the charity stripe, he drove down the court, unleashed a nasty spin move to lose a defender, and softly laid the ball off the backboard and in.
Smith was perfect from the free-throw line again moments later, and on the next play, he sent a floor-length pass to Ezereke Dawson Jr. (Plant City, Fla.). Dawson Jr. hauled in the pass and threw a two-handed slam down, 25-16.
The points continued to flow throughout the rest of the half, powered by Smith. By the time the almost six-minute stretch had ended, Smith had scored 13 of Pearl River's final 20 points of the half, and the Wildcats brought a 37-19 advantage into the break.
Early in the second half, Austin Green (Sicklerville, N.J.; Timber Creek Regional) grabbed the Wildcats some momentum. After backing his way into the paint, he knocked down a miracle shot, draining a layup despite falling to the ground, 41-19. Green had another stellar play a while later. He dribbled one time into the paint and pump-faked, which sent a pair of defenders flying past him and allowed for an easy layup, 51-26.
Dorien Goodman (Dallas, Texas; Lancaster) and Dyllion Redmond (Jackson; Callaway) combined to send the Wildcat crowd into hysterics with 7:29 left. Goodman dashed down the court and threw a perfect lob to the crashing Redmond. In one motion, Redmond tomahawk slammed the ball, 63-37.
Pearl River continued to add on down the stretch before earning a 76-48 victory.
Smith was electric for the Wildcats, finishing with a 29-point, 10-rebound double-double. He also had four steals and a block.
Green finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Dawson Jr. hauled in nine rebounds and picked up nine points.