By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Lady Wave were playing toe-to-toe with the undefeated Oxford Lady Chargers Friday.
Then the Lady Wave blinked.
Almost that quickly, Oxford had a decisive few seconds to close the third quarter, eventually claiming a 51-41 victory over Tupelo.
“No doubt, that was the difference in the game,” Tupelo coach Stephanie Murphy said.
No doubt it was a competitive contest early.
A balanced Oxford (9-0) attack gave the visitors a slim 10-9 lead after the first quarter. It stayed close into the second, with Chy Cunningham scoring 12 points in the half to keep the Lady Wave (4-5) within 22-20 at the half.
“Tupelo attacked us, and we played Tupelo’s game in the first half,” Oxford coach Shayne Linzy said. “During a timeout in the third quarter, I told the team to pick up their intensity, and that positive things would happen if they did.”
Tupelo even forged into the lead in the third period, once on a Dasia Mosley basket, then at 28-27 on a Kristen Lockridge lay up. Then the Oxford intensity zapped the Lady Wave.
Oxford went on a 9-0 run in the last minute of the quarter, with Kristen Dickerson’s basket at the buzzer giving the Lady Chargers a 36-28 lead. Tupelo never recovered.
The Lady Wave did pull within 42-38 on a pair of free throws by Faith Cook with 2 minutes, 37 seconds to play. But a Tyra Lewis basket kept Tupelo at bay, and Oxford went on to the win.
“In the first half, we were a bit more patient,” Murphy said.
Lameisha Gillom paced the Oxford offense with 16 points, and Cunningham led Tupelo with 18.
(B) Tupelo 82, Oxford 50
The well-drilled Chargers ran into a determined Tupelo team, which matched their execution, and then some.
Three 3-pointers by Shane Butler pushed the Wave (7-2) to a 21-12 first quarter lead. Chris Brooks then opened the second period with a couple of baskets for the Wave, with Rashon Coleman’s shot at the halftime buzzer giving Tupelo a 35-21 margin.
Tupelo continued its intense play in the third period, with a 9-0 run that made the score 52-29, finishing off the Chargers (6-3).
Four of Tupelo’s starters were in double figures, led by Deontaye Ewing totaling 17 points. Justin Fondren led Oxford with 16.
Tupelo plays again Tuesday, hosting Lee County rival Shannon. This will be Tupelo’s last home date before Christmas.