By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Columbus had Tupelo’s Lady Wave on the ropes – down by 19 points, 26-7 – early in the first half of Tuesday’s Division 2-6A game.
Tupelo roared back in the second half, but needed all 16 minutes to erase the Lady Falcons’ lead and take a 58-54 victory.
Dasia Mosley’s layup tied the score at 52-52 with 1 minute, 32 seconds remaining while Chy Cunningham’s driving layup down the middle of the lane gave the Lady Wave its first lead – 54-52 – since the game’s opening minutes.
Cunningham and Casey Marshall sank four consecutive free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“Coach (Stephanie Murphy) told us at halftime that we were playing like we were scared,” said Cunningham, who played half of the 2009-10 season with Columbus. “We made up our mind we weren’t going to let them score.”
Tupelo’s aggressive defense held the Lady Falcons to just one field goal in the fourth quarter.
“The difference was our presses and the fact that we were more aggressive going to the basket,” Murphy said. “We started out slow, like we were terrified to play.”
Antoinette Riddle scored 19 points to lead Tupelo (11-10, 3-1 division) while Cunningham added 15.
Columbus (9-5, 3-1) was led by Maggie Proffitt with 21 points and Kiandria Patterson with 20.
– (B) Tupelo 67, Columbus 44: Grant Pate was concerned that his Golden Wave might struggle, especially after its huge win last week against defending state champion Starkville.
“It’s hard coming off a game like that … a challenge,” the coach said. “We talked to our players about focus and humility, things that come after a big win.”
Tupelo (20-2, 4-0) trailed 12-8 after one quarter, but battled back to go in at halftime up 21-20.
The difference came in the third quarter when Tupelo turned up its full-court defensive pressure and charged to a 45-35 lead.
Six players scored the Golden Wave’s eight field goals in the quarter.
“It all starts with defense,” said guard Chaz Jones, who scored two field goals in the third quarter. “That’s where the credit should go.”
Dajon Reno scored 17 points and Chris Brooks 13 for Tupelo. Sam Doughty led Columbus (3-13, 1-3) with 13 points while Deontae Jones added 11.
“We went with a smaller lineup in the third quarter hoping our pressure would overcome some of the putbacks they were getting on the other end,” Pate said. “We wanted to the tempo of the game up.”