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Southwest Lady Bears edge Meridian

MERIDIAN – Withstanding a furious fourth-quarter rally from the home standing Meridian Lady Eagles, the Lady Bears picked up a 71-69 win Thursday night.

With the win, the Lady Bears moved to 16-3 overall (8-0 on the road) to remained in a tied with Co-Lin for second place in the MACJC South with an 8-2 mark. More importantly, the win clinched a spot for the Lady Bears in the upcoming MACJC State Tournament.

A layup and three pointer from Tatyana Turner gave the Lady Bears a 5-0 lead early in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, a jumper from Gabriella Cortez helped the Lady Bears to a 10-0 run that left them on top 19-8 with 2:13 on the clock. They went on to a 22-16 advantage at the end of the quarter.

With Teshia Jones scoring nine points, including a pair of three pointers, the Lady Bears took a 33-24 lead with 2:07 left in the second quarter. Chelsea James’ layup with 0:10 on the clock pushed the lead to 39-28 at the end of the half.

Meridian (2-16, 1-9 South) cut the Lady Bears’ lead to six points, 40-34, on a pair of Roshonae Rice free throws with 7:38 left in the third quarter. But, an Alissa Adam jumper with 7:22 on the clock pushed the lead back to eight, 42-34. An old-fashioned three-point play by Cortez, with 4:23 showing, gave the Lady Bears their biggest lead of the night at 52-36. They led 58-45 at the end of the quarter.

Jones’ three pointer with 8:36 left in the game left the Lady Bears with a seemingly comfortable 61-49 lead. It was at that point the hosts came to life. Sparked by a pair of LaShonda Cousin free throws, Meridian outscored the Lady Bears 16-8 over the next 6:08 to narrow their deficit to 69-65 with 2:28 still to play.

Cortez hit a short jumper with 1:24 remaining that put the Lady Bears’ lead up to six, 71-65. Andrianna James’ hit a three pointer with 0:09 to play that cut the Lady Bears’ lead back to two points, but Meridian was unable to get another shot as the Lady Bears held on for the win.

“We like to keep it interesting,” Lady Bears head coach Brent Harris joked after the game. Harris said his squad got off to a good start “but, give Meridian credit. They would not go away.”

Harris also said that “It’s great to clinch a playoff spot this early” (there are still four games remaining in the regular season).

Jones paced the Lady Bears’ offense with 21 points, including 4-7 from the behind the three-point arc. Cortez netted 18 points and picked up eight rebounds. Adam recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 assists. The Lady Bears hit eight of 16 free throws.

Meridian’s Kashari Gordon led all scorers with 22 points. The Lady Eagles made nine of 17 free throws.

The Lady Bears return home Monday night for their next contest as they host a “Pink Game”, to raise awareness of breast cancer, against the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lady Bulldogs at 5:30. Fans are asked to wear pink to the game.