Booneville, Miss. – Brian Alexander continues to see the vast strides and improvement that Ayana Ragin is making as a freshman at Northeast Mississippi Community College.


The 5-10 forward from Baldwyn scored a career-high 12 points on 4 of 6 shooting for the Lady Tigers in an 80-67 loss to East Mississippi Community College on Monday at Bonner Arnold Coliseum.


"She's getting better and better," said Alexander, Northeast's third-year headman. "She plays really hard and with a great attitude. I thought she gave it all she had."


Ragin saw 32 minutes of action on the court in the second start of her collegiate career and got the Lady Tigers on the scoreboard early in the contest.


After back-to-back three-pointers from Takera Mitchell and Wilma Davis put the Lady Lions ahead just one minute into the matchup, Ragin got Northeast in motion with a defensive rebound and a layup on the other end.


The Lady Tigers stayed within two possessions of the lead at 15-9 after an old-fashioned three-point play by Antionette Riddle, but two straight baskets from Savannah Kimmons gave East Mississippi its initial double-digit lead at the 13:07 mark.


A nice run at the end of the opening half, though, helped Northeast cut into the advantage held by the Lady Lions, who are currently tied for first place in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division.


Five straight points by Jasmine Allen and a Lexy Lindsey make off a Riddle assist as the clock expired got the Lady Tigers back within 10 points, 38-28, at halftime.


Northeast (6-14, 1-8) came as close as seven points to the lead following a Katie Foster jumper with 15:39 remaining in the game.


But each time the Lady Tigers tried to catch up East Mississippi (13-7, 8-1) had the appropriate answer. Kimmons accounted for the response a majority of the time and was 12 of 13 from the field in the second half.


Kimmons scored 26 of her game-high 36 points after the break to aid East Mississippi in maintaining its advantage. Mitchell was the only other double-digit scorer for the Lady Lions with 15.


Three others joined Ragin in double figures for Northeast, topped by Riddle's 17. It was the fifteenth straight outing for the Tupelo native to score 10-plus points.


Teresa Mays and Allen added 10 points apiece to round out the Lady Tigers' offensive effort.


"I think we did have a good plan in place and we did play hard," said Alexander. "I don't think our kids quit and there was a lot of positives we can build off of moving forward."


Northeast held a minus-eight edge on turnovers and forced 22 Lady Lion mistakes. Ten of those forced errors were off steals with Ragin grabbing four.


The Lady Tigers were perfect from the charity stripe in the opening half and shot 78.8 percent overall in the contest. Northeast remains the second-best free throw shooting team in the conference.


(M) East Mississippi 95, Northeast 59


With his mother in attendance to watch him play for the first time in over two months, Dimario Jackson had a tremendous game with a team-best 20 points for the Tigers.


"I just thank her for taking that ride because I know it's no joke," said Jackson of the over six-hour drive between Booneville and his hometown of Brusly, La. "I thank the Lord for allowing her to make it here. It was very, very important to me."


Jackson was spotless from beyond the arc and was also 8 of 10 at the charity stripe. The 5-10, 160 pound guard remains one of the top free throw shooters in the MACJC at 80.3 percent.


The visiting Lions (15-4, 6-2) started the game on fire with an 11-2 run and did not let up. East Mississippi, the defending National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 champions, hit 68 percent of its shots from the floor and was also 55.6 percent from three-point range.


Northeast rebounded, however, with the help of some quick makes from Keldrick Lesley and Al Azulphar. The Tigers cut their deficit to 18-13 with 12:10 remaining until halftime after a Cameron Shorty jumper.


But from that instance the Lions scored 30 of the next 36 points before an El Paso Johnson-Pitts field goal stopped the damage. University of Memphis signee Avery Woodson scored eight in that stretch as East Mississippi took a 53-28 advantage to the locker room.


Tyre Mallard had a strong performance after the break and notched each of his 10 points over the final 20 minutes, but it was not enough as the Lions sustained their halftime lead to claim the victory.


"He played with some energy and athleticism," Northeast coach Cord Wright said of Mallard. "Tonight he started and played well and it was good to see."


Johnson-Pitts totaled 11 points to join Jackson and Mallard, who also had a team-high five rebounds, as the Tigers' double-figure scorers.


Northeast (4-16, 1-8) turned the ball over just six times, which tied for a season low set on January 27 versus Mississippi Delta Community College.


Five Lions reached the double-digit plateau in points scored, topped by Jacolby Mobley's 25. Davon Ester and Woodson were the next highest at 16 apiece while University of Alabama transfer Devonta Pollard dropped in 13.


The Lady Tigers and Tigers return to action on Thursday (February 13) with a trip to Coahoma Community College. Due to travel concerns, game times for the doubleheader have been moved up one hour to 5 and 7 p.m. at The Pinnacle in Clarksdale.