River women pound LSU-Eunice in Region 23 quarterfinals

Taylor BristerCLINTON --- Pearl River's Lady Wildcats are one win away from copping and NJCAA National Tournament berth after smashing La. No. 1 LSU-Eunice 84-68 in opening-round action of the Region 23 Tournament underway here in A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
Miss. No. 4 PRCC trailed 39-37 at the half before bouncing back with a dominating 47-29 effort in the second half to take the lopsided 16-point victory.
The Lady ’Cats, 18-7 overall, will now face Miss. No. 2 Southwest Mississippi, 72-63 winners over Region No. 6 East Mississippi in the quarter-finals, in Friday’s semi-final round at 2 p.m. Friday. The 26-4 Lady Bengals ended their season.
The winner of that contest nabs a national tournament berth, as both women’s teams in the championship game earns berths --- a rotating scenario between women and men. In the 2015 regionals, both men’s teams in their title bout will earn national berths.
The NJCAA Women’s National Tournament is set for March 17-22 in the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan.
Against LSU-E, the Lady Bengals led early building an 13-5 advantage at the 15:27 mark, but The River women bounced back with an impressive 15-6 run over the next four minutes to take their first lead of the game at 21-19.
LSU-E regained the when Taylor Maricle’s basket gave the Lady Bengals a 24-23 edge before Shanta’ Echols of Sumrall High sank a bucket to give PRCC a 27-26 lead at 5:47 before the break. LSU-Eunice went up by one seconds later before Echols pulled off a three-point play at the 5:12 mark to for a 30-28 lead.
After LSU-E tied it up at 30, it was Echols again with a basket to make it 32-30 PRCC and the Lady Wildcats stayed on top until Brooke Richard sank a buzzer-beating three to give the Lady Bengals a 39-37 edge at the intermission.
LSU-Eunice never regained the lead. Pearl River opened the second half with a 23-13 scoring run to build its lead to 60-52 with 12:25 left, but the Lady Bengals answered with a 14-11 comeback run to cut the Lady Wildcats lead to three --- 71-66 --- at the 5:07 mark.
That was as close as they would get, as The River retaliated with a 13-0 scoring surge the rest of the way to take the 16-point victory.
Echols paced the Lady Wildcats with 22 points, 13 boards, and three blocked shots --- all game-high totals --- while Kalisha Washington out of Murrah High in Jackson added 19 (five assists, two treys), Taylor Brister, an East Central CC transfer to prepped at Lawrence County High, 18 (four assists), Deantra Darjean, a Prairie View A&M transfer out of Yates High in Houston, Tex., 10 (eight rebounds, two treys, five blocks, two steals), Essence Pulliam out of Forest Hill High in Jackson nine (11 rebounds, two blocks), Tamesha Horne of Taylorsville High five, and Kaci Sisson of Quitman High three.
Richard (two treys) and Reagan Maricle (eight assists) led LSU-E with 17 points each, while Taylor Maricle added nine (12 assists), Meghan Cross, Taylor Holzmeier, and Baylie Lee (seven rebounds), six a piece, and Kelsey Thibodeaux two.
Pearl River hit 48.2 percent (27 of 56) from the field to LSU-Eunice’s 39.1 (27 of 69), while the Lady Wildcats were seven of 16 (43.8 percent) from three-point range to the Lady Bengals’ four of 15 (26.7 percent) effort. At the foul line PRCC was 23 of 33 (69.7 percent), while LSU-E was 10 of 11 (90.9 percent).
The River dominated the boards with 47 rebounds (16 offensive, 31 defensive) the losers’ 32 (13 offensive, 19 defensive), while the Lady ’Cats committed 15 turnovers to the Lady Bengals’ 13.
In other women’s quarterfinal action, Miss. No. 1 and MACJC champ Jones County fell to Region No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln 63-58 and Region No. 5 Baton Rouge (La.) eliminated Miss. No. 3 Meridian 80-79.
Men’s quarter-finals are set for Thursday with No. 1 Jones County (20-5) facing No. 8 Southwest Mississippi (12-12) at 12 noon, No. 4 Mississippi Gulf Coast faces No. 5 East Mississippi at 2 p.m., No. 2 and MACJC champ Itawamba (17-9) faces No. 7 Northwest Mississippi (12-10) at 6 p.m., and No. 3 Southern-Shreveport (15-6) faces No. 6 Pearl River (16-7) at 8 p.m.
Thursday’s winners will play semi-final games at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with the women’s championship game set for 6 p.m. Saturday and the men’s at 8 p.m.
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March 5-8 / Mississippi College / Clinton, MS
Miss. No. 4 Pearl River vs. La. No. 1 LSU-Eunice
Halftime: 39-37 (LSU-E)
Second Half: 47-29 (PRCC)
PEARL RIVER (17-7): Shanta' Echols 22 (13 RB, 3 blocks), Kalisha Washington 19 (5 assists, 2 treys), Taylor Brister 18 (4 assists), Deantra Darjean 10 (8 RB, 2 treys, 5 blocks, 2 steals), Essence Pulliam 9 (11 RB, 2 blocks), Tamesha Horne 5, Kaci Sisson 3.
LSU-EUNICE (26-4): Brooke Richard 17 (2 treys), Reagan Maricle 17 (8 assists), Taylor Maricle 9 (12 assists), Meghan Cross 6, Taylor Holzmeier 6, Baylie Lee 6 (7 RB), Kelsey Thibodeaux 2.
FIELD GOALS: LSU-E – 27 of 69 (39.1%), PRCC – 27 of 56 (48.2%).
THREE POINTERS: LSU-E – 4 of 15 (26.7%), PRCC – 7 of 16 (43.8%).
FREE THROWS: LSU-E – 10 of 11 (90.9%), PRCC – 23 of 33 (69.7%).
REBOUNDS: LSU-E – 32 (13 offensive, 19 defensive), PRCC – 47 (16 offensive, 31 defensive).
EARLIER WOMEN'S QUARTER-FINAL GAMES: Miss. No. 1 Jones County 58, Region No. 7 Copiah-Lincoln 63; Region No. 5 Baton Rouge 80, Miss. No. 3 Meridian 79; Miss. No. 2 Southwest Miss. 72, Region No. 6 East Miss. 64.
UP NEXT: Co-Lin will now face Baton Rouge at 12 noon Friday, while Southwest Miss. will face Pearl River at 2 p.m. in the women's semi-finals Friday.

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