By Chuck Livingston
The Evening Times Sports Editor
MSCC Sports Information
WEST MEMPHIS, Arkansas --- For the first half of hoops at The Dog House last Saturday afternoon, it looked like the MSCC Greyhounds were going to start their season-ending five-game homestand with a loss to a team that they had already beaten earlier in the year.
For the second half, MSCC finally woke up in time to take down their second consecutive win and nabbed their 14th victory, tying last year's mark of 14 wins as the most in a season by any Greyhound squad.
The Greyhounds (14-9 overall) erased a six-point halftime deficit by outscoring West Kentucky CTC by seven in the game's final 20 minutes to steal a 73-72 win, sweeping the season series against the Stars in the process.
MSCC got a huge lift from Wynne native Tasmania Jones. Jones was held scoreless in the first half, and only pulled down three rebounds, but dominated play after the break, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Jones also played a role in West Kentucky's late-game strategy. On two possessions, the Stars fouled Jones, who has not shot well from the line so far this season.
However, the MSCC freshman nailed 3 of his 4 attempts, including the one that gave the Greyhounds the one-point cushion that they eventually won by.
"We have continued to emphasize that he is our leader in field goal percentage," MSCC head coach Chris Parker explained. "We want the people who make shots to take the shots. We knew it was just a matter of time with Taz."
The game didn't start off that rosy, however. After MSCC scored the game's first six points, West Kentucky owned the first half, shooting a cool 13 of 22 from the field, including a sharp 4 of 9 mark from three-point range in building a 35-29 halftime lead.
At halftime, Parker and his staff decided to throw more zone looks at West Kentucky and the Stars connected on only 12 of their 30 attempts after the break.
"A lot of times you don't think about going to a zone against a hot-shooting team," said Parker. "But sometimes when you just change something, you might throw them off their rhythm, and that's what happened today. I knew that we didn't want to get beat the same way twice, so if they kept hitting then they've just earned the win. But at least we would have tried something different and made them adjust."
One of the keys in MSCC going to halftime behind was the Greyhounds' offensive output from anyone not named Kaylon Tappin. Tappin, a freshman from Little Rock, scored 12 points in the first half, but no other MSCC player scored more than Tyler Armstrong's 5 in that frame.
West Kentucky took the lead for the first time, and seized as much as a 10-point lead, in the first half with Tappin on the bench.
"Three of our last five games, we've gone through periods where we've struggled to score when Tappin is not on the floor," Parker explained. "I don't know the reason for that and we're continuing to find a solution. But I thought we had a lot of guys step up and kind of fill that void in the second half. We stayed in it and fought our way back into it."
Tappin would finish his night with a game-high 25 points, and played the last three minutes after leaving the game twice with an injury after falling hard to the ground.
MSCC would also erase a 17-15 rebounding deficit in the first half by winning the battle on the glass 38-32. The Greyhounds also forced 15 West Kentucky turnovers and lost it only 12 times on their end.
The Greyhounds hit just 10 of 30 in the first half, but finished the game knocking down 23 of 41 from the field, while West Kentucky checked in at a solid 25 of 52.
MSCC remains at home this week as they host Champion Baptist on Thursday night for a 6:00 p.m. tipoff. The Greyhounds beat Champion on the road last month 110-68.