Booneville, Miss. - The Northeast Mississippi Community College women's basketball team could not shake off a sluggish start to the newly christened 2018-19 campaign.
The Lady Tigers fell to Wallace State (Ala.) Community College at Hanceville 70-64 in the season opener for both programs on Tuesday, November 6 at historic Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
Northeast trailed 19-8 after the first quarter and was held scoreless for nearly five minutes to begin the contest. Dayzsha Rogan finally drained a three-pointer that served as the inaugural points of the year for the Lady Tigers at the 5:05 mark.
The cold snap continued, though, with another four-plus minute span between field goals. The Lady Lions built a double-digit lead by the time Dominique Caldwell's layup ended the drought with 25 seconds left in the period.
Rogan got the Lady Tigers back into the matchup in the second quarter. She scored 10 of her 15 points in the period, including another trey as part of an 8-2 run by Northeast to close the first half.
Caldwell sent the Lady Tigers (0-1) into the locker room with momentum after drilling a shot from long distance right before the buzzer. Her first career trey at the collegiate level cut Northeast's deficit to 34-27.
The Lady Tigers' come-from-behind effort increased in earnest after the intermission and ran through Cherelle Jones in the post. She tallied 18 of her career-high 22 points in the second half.
Jones, who along with Rogan are reigning Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) All-State selections, accounted for the initial eight points of the third quarter for Northeast.
The Lady Tigers got back within two possessions at 46-40 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Tekeria Newson that was assisted by Quitonya Webster. But Wallace State-Hanceville built its lead back to double figures at 53-43 by the end of the third.
Northeast got even closer to evening things in the final period. The Lady Tigers came as close as one possession on three separate occasions throughout the fourth, including as late as 1:35 to go following another Jones bucket.
However, the Lady Lions (1-0) made three out of four free throw attempts in the final minute to hold off Northeast and secure their first triumph in Booneville since the 2011-12 season.
"I asked them after the game what was wrong and they said they were a little nervous," said Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes. "I was proud of the fact that they came on and started to play the way we're capable of playing in the second half."
Jones added 12 rebounds to her game-high point total to record the 12th double-double of her tenure in the City of Hospitality. She was 10-of-18 from the floor and added a block to her resume as well.
"The first half I think we had to get the jitterbugs out. But once those left, we got it going," Jones said. "I know that my team is depending on me so I want to do even better."
Lanoria Abrams was the third double-digit scorer for Northeast. She set a new career-high with 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting plus a 6-of-9 showing at the charity stripe in her debut as a sophomore.
Six freshmen made their inaugural appearances with the Lady Tigers versus Wallace State-Hanceville. Caldwell topped the group of newcomers with seven points, three steals and two assists.
Northeast returns to action on Monday, November 12 with a road trip to Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College. Tipoff in Gallatin, Tenn., is slated for 5:30 p.m. at the Pickel Field House.