PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast's Tedrian Brisco hit a pair of clutch free throws to ice the game after the Bulldogs defense shut down archrival Pearl River down the stretch in a 73-70 victory Thursday.
"I was thinking the game was on the line so I can't miss," he said. "That's something I've been telling myself my whole life. I didn't want to let my teammates down, my coaches down, my school down."
Gulf Coast (13-2, 5-1 MACJC South) remains in a first-place tie with Jones County and Southwest. The Bulldogs head to Southwest on Monday for a key showdown. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Brisco (6-5, 195, So., Porter's Chapel/Vicksburg) led Gulf Coast with 18 points. Davion Cole-Johnson (6-4, 210, So., Pike/Glen Ellyn, Ill.) had 17, and Winston Morgan (5-10, 170, So., East Catholic/Manchester, Conn.) added 14, including four 3-pointers.
The Bulldogs led by as many as 16 in the first half, but the cushion completely evaporated by five minutes into the second half when PRCC (10-5, 2-4) tied it at 50.
Gulf Coast built a six-point lead back up, but the Wildcats tied it back up at 62 with 7:46 to play. Cole-Johnson assisted on the next three baskets, an alley oop to Jaylen Peters (6-3, 194, Fr., Pass Christian/Pass Christian) and a pair of Morgan 3s that made it 70-64.
Pearl River trimmed the lead back to 70-68 with 4:58 to play, but would manage only four points the rest of the way.
"I thought our defense was pretty good in the last four minutes," Gulf Coast coach Wendell Weathers said. "We did what we had to do to shut that down, cause some bad shots and then we rebounded the missed shots."
Cole-Johnson made a free throw with 2:06 left for a 71-68 lead, but Rodney Mallett's drive made it a one-point game with 1:43 left.
The teams exchanged turnovers and missed buckets until Pearl River got the ball under their own goal. Mallett missed a short jump shot, and Brisco rebounded. He was fouled and made two free throws with 4.2 second left.
The Wildcats were unable to get a good shot before the buzzer.
"It feels great," Brisco said, "but it's just another stepping stone to get to where we want to be."
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