Lady Wildcats wrap season with 59-58 loss to Lady Bears in Region 23 semi-finals

     CLINTON --- The Miss. No. 4 Pearl River Lady Wildcats wrapped their impressive hoops season with a 59-58 nail-biting loss to Miss. No. 2 Southwest Mississippi here Friday in the women's semi-finals of the Region 23 Tournament underway in A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
    The the nail-biting victory, the Lady Bears earned a berth in the women's regional title bout set for Saturday 6 p.m. again Region No. 5 Baton Rouge (La.), 78-70 victors over Region No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln in the earlier semi-final contest. Both SMCC and BRCC copped berths in the NJCAA National Tournament set for March 17-22 in the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan.
    The River women ended its season at 17-8 overall, while Southwest improved to 22-7.
    The Lady Bears opened strong, jumping out to an 8-0 lead before Vamikka Smith out of Murphy High in Mobile, Ala., finally got the Lady Wildcats on the scoreboard with a basket at the 16:40 mark of the first half. Smith's bucket kicked off an 11-5 scoring run over the next six minutes to pull within one --- 14-13 --- but Southwest answered with a dominating 11-0 surge to pump its lead to 25-13 with 5:40 before the break.
    SMCC maintained a double-digit advantage until Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson banged in one of her three treys in the game at the 2:45 mark. Her basket kicked off an 8-0 run to pull PRCC to within two --- 27-25 --- at the intermission.
    Pearl River went up 30-29 off a putback basket by Shanta' Echols of Sumrall High at the 18:33 mark, kicking off a 9-2 scoring surge, but Southwest responded with a 10-2 comeback run to tie it up at 41-41 with 12:03 left. After Katrina Littlepage's basket put the Lady Bears up 43-41, the game saw three stalemates and nine lead changes.
    SMCC's Tina Myers sank a pair of free throws with 39.6 seconds left to put the Lady Bears up 59-58 for the game's final points.
    Washington led The River with 16 points (three treys, six rebounds), while Deantra Darjean, a Prairie View A&M transfer out of Yates (Tex.) High, added 13 (six rebounds, two blocks), Echols 12 (11 rebounds, two blocks), Tamera Williams of Hinds AHS 11 (three treys), and Taylor Brister, an East Central CC transfer to prepped at Lawrence County High, Essence Pulliam out of Forest Hill High in Jackson, and Smith (six rebounds), two apiece.
    Littlepage paced Southwest with a game-high 26 points (two treys), while April Levy scored 11 (three treys), Tina Myers six (nine rebounds, three steals), Talisa Sherman (five rebounds, three assists) and Robyn Reyes (seven rebounds), four each, Cortney Epting three, Elayne Robinson two, and Fredrikah Wilson one.
    Pearl River hit 36.8 percent (21 of 57) from the field to Southwest Mississippi's 37.9 percent (22 of 58), while the Lady Wildcats were six of 16 (37.5 percent) from three-point range to the Lady Bears' six-of-19 (31.6 percent) effort. PRCC was 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) at the foul line to SMCC's nine-of-14 (64.3 percent) showing.
    Southwest hauled in 42 rebounds (19 offensive, 23 defensive) to The River's 40 (20 offensive, 20 defensive, while the Lady Wildcats committed 20 turnovers to the Lady Bear's 17.
    PRCC's women swept SMCC during the regular season copping a 73-72 overtime victory Jan. 16 in Summit and a 60-56 win Feb. 10 in Poplarville.
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2014 NJCAA REGION 23 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
March 5-8 / Mississippi College / Clinton, MS
Miss. No. 4 Pearl River vs. Miss. No. 2 Southwest Mississippi
SOUTHWEST MISS. 59, PEARL RIVER 58
Halftime: 27-25 (SMCC)
Second Half: 33-32 (PRCC)
SCORERS
PEARL RIVER (17-8): Kalisha Washington 16 (3 treys, 6 RB), Deantra Darjean 13 (6 RB, 2 blocks), Shanta' Echols 12 (11 RB, 2 blocks), Tamera Williams 11 (3 treys), Taylor Brister 2, Essence Pulliam 2, Vamikka Smith 2 (6 RB).
SOUTHWEST MISS. (22-7): Katrina Littlepage 26 (2 treys), April Levy 11 (3 treys), Tina Myers 6 (9 RB, 3 steals), Talisa Sherman 4 (5 RB, 3 assists), Robyn Reyes 4 (7 RB), Cortney Epting 3, Elayne Robinson 2, Fredrikah Wilson 1.
FIELD GOALS: SMCC – 22 of 58 (37.9%), PRCC – 21 of 57 (36.8%).
THREE POINTERS: SMCC – 6 of 19 (31.6%), PRCC – 6 of 16 (37.5%).
FREE THROWS: SMCC – 9 of 14 (64.3%), PRCC – 10 of 19 (52.6%).
REBOUNDS: SMCC – 42 (19 offensive, 23 defensive), PRCC – 40 (20 offensive, 20 defensive).
TURNOVERS: SMCC – 17, PRCC – 20.
EARLIER WOMEN'S SEMI-FINAL GAME: Region No. 5 Baton Rouge (La.) 78, Region No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln 70.
UP NEXT: Southwest Miss. will face Baton Rouge at 6 p.m. Saturday for the women's championship. Both teams have nabbed berths for the NJCAA National Tournament set for March 17-22 in the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan.

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