Stout defense pushes Pearl River women past Southwest
Dylan Dunaway - PRCC Sports Information Director
SUMMIT, Miss. — The Pearl River women's basketball team allowed defense to lead the way Thursday night against Southwest, holding the Bears to their lowest point total this season to earn a 62-44 victory.
"Our defense was supreme tonight," Pearl River coach Scotty Fletcher said. "Our attention to detail during scouting and preparation was the best that it has been all year. Everyone who stepped on the court was really good. I'm really proud of our girls. Going on the road and winning is huge.
"We've talked about this before. This team isn't perfect, but they are truly a special bunch. It's a great group to coach. They want to get better and they want to be special. This team has unbelievable leadership."
Pearl River (16-1 overall; 6-1 MACCC) got off to a hot start in the contest, picking up the first six baskets of the game. J'Mani Ingram (North Augusta, S.C.) drove inside the lane and got an off-balance floater to fall. On the next Wildcat possession, Keshunti Nichols (Pearl) snatched an offensive board and immediately went back up for an easy layup and a 6-0 lead.
Southwest (11-8; 2-5) didn't let the early deficit bother it, fighting back to cut the lead to two points, 9-7. With the help of consecutive baskets from Alexis Arrington (Terry) and Nichols, the Wildcats ended the first quarter ahead, 13-7.
The adjustments made by SMCC during the quarter break made a difference in the early portion of the second quarter as the Bears fought back once again to trail 15-13. Ingram finally slowed the momentum switch with 7:30 remaining on the clock. The Winthrop transfer caught a pass on the baseline and slashed home a jumper to give PRCC a 17-13 lead.
The Wildcats went ahead 22-18 with just over three minutes remaining in the half when Hama'ya Fielder (Philadelphia; Neshoba Central) caught a ball deep beyond the arc and hit nothing but net on her shot attempt.
Nichols added in the last basket of the half for Pearl River, knocking down a mid-range pull-up jumper to extend the lead to 29-23 at the break.
The Wildcats got a boost of momentum around the 7:30 mark in the third quarter. Arrington was subbed into the game and within three seconds, she picked up a basket to add to the lead. Halle Traylor (Tupelo) followed it up with one of her own to make the score 33-25.
At the 1:10 mark in the third quarter, Fielder's shot from downtown was good once again and pushed out the Wildcat lead, 42-34. Just before time expired in the quarter, Nichols knocked down a big 3-pointer to send PRCC into the final period of the night with a 45-34 advantage.
The fourth quarter saw Pearl River finally pull away from Southwest. A 3-pointer from Fielder and a layup by Ingram swelled the lead to 50-36 at the 7:02 mark.
Nichols helped ice the 62-44 victory at the end of the night, getting her basket to fall with one minute remaining.
LEADING THE WAY
A trio of Wildcats scored in double figures led by a 13-point showing from Nichols. It was her first double-digit scoring night since her 18-point showing on Nov. 10 against Southern-Shreveport.
"She was back to the old Keke," Fletcher said. "She was very active and disruptive on both ends. She compliments our team so well. We were proud of Keke to get back to how she was playing earlier in the season."
Ingram extended her double-digit scoring streak to five games, adding in 11 points. Traylor also scored 11 points on the evening.
Fletcher talked about Jaliscia Florence (Tupelo) who made a massive impact on the defensive end of the court.
"She's our X-factor. She guards the best player every time she's on the court," he said. "She's just a phenomenal player to have and she's so valuable to our team. She creates so much havoc on the defensive end. I'm proud of how she's stepped up and played the point guard position over the last two games."
The Wildcats return home to Marvin R. White Coliseum Monday for an important conference matchup with Copiah-Lincoln. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
CASHLESS BOX OFFICE
To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices will be cashless in 2022-23. 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.
Pearl River livestreams all home games 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.
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