Coahoma Lady Tigers gave Itawamba Community College a total upset for their 2021 season. Coahoma went into Monday's evening matchup, being the underdogs as Itawamba was undefeated for the season. Their last match was against Northeast Mississippi, and they showed no mercy winning, 78-47. Coahoma's previous game was not their best as they lost 65-45 to East Mississippi Community College.
Lady Tigers made a complete turnaround and perfected a critical number of plays to ensure they got the win. It was nothing short of a fight, with the score being tied three times for the night.Amazingly Coahoma ended a 12-game losing streak against Itawamba that lasted from Jan. 29, 2015.
Coahoma started the night with hot hands, getting to the scoreboard before Itawamba could even react. Mary Wilkins got the first two points of the night, and Ayani Cockrell followed one minute later. Coahoma's swift offense led the way for Ashanti Backus to open and secure the first three-point shot of the night. Eventually, Itawamba picked up the pace and started aiming for the basket. Their efforts placed a small dent to stop Coahoma from gaining rebounds and scoring. At the end of the first quarter, Coahoma lead by five, 17-12.
Head coach Stephanie Murphy expressed how much practice went into ensuring the girls placed pressure on Itawamba as early as the first minute of the game."We had a full week of chewing the girls out on being disciplined about the small things and trying to be unified as a team. We went over some zones just in preparation and focusing on execution," said Murphy.
The second quarter began, and immediately ICC's Demetria Shephard consistently made her way to the paint and scores. Coahoma would be right there to respond, with sophomore Jurnee McLaurin picking up two rebounds and scoring. McLaurin ended the night with seven rebounds, six steals, and a total of 17 points. Itawamba tried closing the gap by continually going to the free-throw line by Coahoma's simple errors. The Indians were 27-37 at the free-throw line, showing why they were undefeated for the season. Itawamba would go into the locker room leading by one, and the score read 32-31.
The third quarter started, and the Lady Tigers shifted to another gear. First, Braylin Tate made a layup basket on Itawamba's defense. McLaurin would steal the ball and give it to Cockrell, who would make a crowd cheering 3-point shot. Two minutes later, McLaurin would score back to back 3-pointers. "I like that we executed several plays tonight when we needed big baskets, we were able to score, I was proud of the fight," said Murphy
Itawamba Shomaria Overton responded with a quick spin layup tying the came 49-49. The game would continue with both Community Colleges taking the lead but by no more than just two points.The Lady Tigers realized they could win the game by making points like Itawamba when they ended up at the Free throw line. For the night, Coahoma was 21-41 in free throws. Going into the fourth quarter, Cockrell would get a fast break to the basket and break the tie putting Coahoma back in the lead 57-55.
This quarter brought out both teams' best talents as they were focusing on victory at the end of the 10 minutes.Tate stepped up and took the lead in consistently making layups and jump shots. Itawamba players on the bench started shouting "defense, defense," all to stop Coahoma from making more points. Tate was the night's star for Coahoma, scoring 18 points and being 10-12 in free throws, and gaining ten rebounds. Coahoma would lead 77-75.
Coahoma fans hoped Itawamba's top scorer, Overton, didn't get the ball as one three-point shot would bring a devasting loss with a nail-biting minute left in the game. In the process of making a layup, Coahoma's Tate would receive a foul towards her. She stayed calm under pressure and secured her two free throws. The buzzer would sound and end Coahoma's two dozen game losing streak against Itawamba.
Coach Murphy believes this is just the beginning of Coahoma being a threat in the MACCC league. "This win shows the growth that we have made in our program that we can compete and beat the best team in the North," said Murphy.
The Lady Tigers will battle against Holmes Community College on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in Goodman, Mississippi. Coach Murphy wants her players to use the win against Itawamba as Confidence for the rest of the season.
"I want them to enjoy the win, but we still have several things to work on. I want them to see we can beat the best teams. I feel we are one of the best teams, and I want us to think like that," said Murphy.