Booneville, Miss. – It did not take Northeast Mississippi Community College sophomore sensation Dimario Jackson very long to shake off any remaining trimmings from the Thanksgiving holiday break.
Jackson helped the Tigers complete an 80-71 come-from-behind victory over Arkansas Baptist College with a phenomenal second half on Tuesday inside historic Bonner Arnold Coliseum.
The Brusly, La., native tied a career-high with 27 points on eight field goals and a 9 of 10 effort at the charity stripe. He previously garnered his personal best in an overtime triumph against Mississippi Delta Community College last January as a freshman.
"I saw we were struggling on the offensive end, especially in the first half," said Jackson. "I needed to go out and guide those guys, get some points for us and just bring some energy. The other guys fed off me."
The Buffaloes extended their halftime advantage to 40-32 with 17:35 remaining in the second following back-to-back makes by Fred Albright and Deonta Thomas.
Jackson started Northeast's comeback effort moments later. He registered 10 consecutive points for his team in a span of just over one minute to bring the Tigers within one possession of the lead at 44-42.
Both squads seemingly traded baskets for the next nine minutes. Arkansas Baptist maintained its advantage, but by no more than seven points with freshmen Antonio Dodson, Desmin Harris and Jack Nichols each providing multiple field goals in that stretch.
Northeast brought the matchup into a stalemate for the first time since the 9:09 mark of the opening half with a Harris trey. The Tigers then capitalized on one of 22 Buffalo turnovers to leap ahead for good on Jackson's jumper with only four minutes to play.
Harris sealed Northeast's win with a huge three-pointer that was assisted by Chase Carroll. The Corinth product scored a career-best 13 points and was 3 of 4 from behind the arc against Arkansas Baptist.
"It was a clutch shot. I'd been waiting on that," Harris said. "We'd worked too hard to come out with a loss. It's a real good feeling that will help us stay motivated."
The first half featured a very close contest with six ties and three lead changes. The Tigers (4-3) grasped an 18-16 advantage with 9:23 until the intermission after two free throws and a bucket by Jackson.
A 7-0 run near the end of the period put the Buffaloes up 35-30 at the break. Albright had five points while DJ Reed drained a pair of attempts from the charity stripe during Arkansas Baptist's late spurt.
Nichols joined Harris and Jackson in double figures with 10 points. The Booneville High School graduate also had a team-high seven rebounds and made two pivotal shots in the waning moments for Northeast.
"We just had to come out and play hard," said Nichols. "I saw that we were down and I just brought it. It felt real good to get it together."
The Tigers have won four consecutive matchups when scoring at least 80 points and shooting greater than 45 percent from the floor. Northeast had a field goal percentage of 47.4 versus the Buffaloes.
Bench points were a critical factor for the Tigers as well. Northeast's non-starters outscored Arkansas Baptist 37-15 with Dexter Stafford and Dodson adding seven points apiece.
"I thought as a group everybody brought something to the table," Tigers headman Cord Wright said. "That's kinda how we've been. The games that we've won we had 10 or 11 guys contribute."
Albright topped the Buffaloes (7-6) with 24 points and eight boards while Mike Ayers and Dexter Porchia tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively.
(W) Arkansas Baptist 69, Northeast 66
Daisha Williams did not lose her touch during the Lady Tigers' 12-day layoff between games. She was just shy of tying a career-best with 21 points on 6 of 11 shooting overall and a near perfect 7 of 8 showing at the free throw line.
"I knew it would be kinda tough coming off the break," said Williams, "but I think I shot pretty well from the field."
Northeast sprinted ahead quickly with Clinton High School alumni Alivia Hughes and Harper Newell accounting for the initial seven points of the matchup. Williams then connected on back-to-back jumpers to give the Lady Tigers a 12-2 lead.
Williams gave Northeast (3-3) its largest advantage of the evening at 23-8 with about nine minutes before the intermission on a make from long distance that was assisted by V'lenchia Farmer.
The Lady Buffaloes temporarily got its deficit back under double digits in the first following an old-fashioned three-point play by Surayyya Palmer. But baskets by LaKeiya Lane and Newell sent the Lady Tigers into the locker room with a 36-26 lead.
Arkansas Baptist crept back into the contest by holding Northeast without a field goal for seven minutes between a layup by Aushiana Ivy and Newell's fourth bucket of the night with 11:09 left on the clock.
Williams launched another trey that went through the net to give the Lady Tigers a 48-42 advantage, but the Lady Buffaloes went ahead for good shortly after that with four straight points by April Phelix.
Dashiyah Agnew's lay in brought Northeast to within 67-66, but Phelix made two free throws with seven seconds remaining to secure the victory for Arkansas Baptist.
"We had some bright spots tonight," Lady Tigers head coach Brian Alexander said, "but we've got some adjusting that we have to do and we'll have them ready to go."
Newell had nine points while Jasmine Allen and Lane notched eight points apiece for Northeast. The Lady Tigers shot 73.1 percent at the charity stripe with Allen, Harper and Ivy each recording perfect evenings in that category.
The Lady Buffaloes were held to only 20 percent from beyond the arc. It is the third time this season that Northeast has forced its opposition to a three-point percentage of less than 30.
Palmer had 13 points to guide Arkansas Baptist (2-11). Emani Hamilton, Kaylen Taylor and Ashley Wakefield each reached double figures with 10 points as well.