PERKINSTON-- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College jumped out to a fast lead against Pearl River Community College and never looked back.
Deshawn Jones scored 21 points as the Bulldogs cruised past Pearl River 82-70 on Thursday night at the Weathers/Wentzell Center.
The Bulldogs (17-4, 8-4) swept the regular-season series over Pearl River (14-7, 8-4), moving into a second place tie in the South Division with the Wildcats and East Central. Gulf Coast holds the tiebreaker over both teams. Jones County Junior College beat Meridian to remain a game ahead of the Bulldogs and Wildcats.
The Bulldogs had balanced scoring, as Davion Cole-Johnson scored 19 and Anfernee Hampton added 17. Tedrian Brisco had 11.
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"All of our guys did well tonight, but DeShawn just makes us go," Bulldogs coach Wendell Weathers said. "Deshawn played here last year and knows what we want to do. He's like a coach on the floor."
Gulf Coast jumped out to a 21-8 lead as Hampton scored seven points in the first nine minutes. Cole-Johnson added five.
The Wildcats went on a 18-7 run to get within 28-25, as Teddy Scott and William Brown each had five.
But the Bulldogs answered Pearl River's run, closing the half with a 13-0 run to lead 45-27 at halftime. Hampton, Brisco and Jones all had five points for Gulf Coast over the last five minutes of the first half.
Pearl River got within 10 late in the game, but the Bulldogs made free throws down the stretch.
"It was important for us to start out fast because that gave us a lot of energy," Hampton said. "We've prepared all week long for this game."
Teddy Scott led the Wildcats with 21 points. William Brown added 15.
With two games left in the regular season, Gulf Coast has a shot to win the South Division.
"Beating Pearl River was huge because it gives us the tiebreaker over them if it comes down to that," Weathers said. "Five teams in the South are within a game of each other. Monday, we go to Hinds and that won't be a cakewalk."
Gulf Coast women 74, Pearl River 73: Shaniqua Tobias' three-pointer with 18 seconds left in overtime lifted the Lady Bulldogs (11-10, 3-9 South Division) past Pearl River. Asia Thibodeaux's two free throws gave the Lady Wildcats a 73-71 lead with 29 seconds left. The Lady Bulldogs added a free throw with one second left for the final margin.
Pearl River blew a seven-point lead in the final 45 seconds. Kailin Young's putback as time expires forced overtime. Young finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Markeshia Watson led the Lady Bulldogs with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Tobias finished with 12 points for Gulf Coast.
Thibodeaux led all scorers with 24 points. Akayla Powell and Shaniqua Magee each had 18 points for Pearl River (6-14, 3-9).