Booneville, Miss. – The message delivered at halftime by Northeast Mississippi Community College sophomores Leroy Buchanan and Kendarius Smith clearly resounded throughout the locker room. 


The Tigers, who trailed at the break for the first time this season, outscored Motlow State (Tenn.) Community College by 14 points in the second half to claim a come-from-behind 76-68 win on Thursday, November 17 inside Bonner Arnold Coliseum.


"We played them last year and knew what we had to do," said Buchanan. "We just told the young guys to stay with it. They stepped up and made big shots. We had to match their energy."


Buchanan heeded his own words and accounted for 23 of his game-best 32 points following the intermission. It is the second consecutive game in which he has set a new career-high in points.


"He's a true competitor," Northeast headman Cord Wright said, "and it's not just on game nights. If you come watch anytime we practice, he never comes off the floor. It's a fight to get him off. There's never a moment he can't handle because he goes through so many in practice."


Buchanan made the inaugural field goal of the second half and moments later capped a 10-0 run with an old-fashioned three-point play that gave the Tigers their first lead of the entire contest at the 16:16 mark.


Both squads exchanged leads four times and were tied twice over the next five-plus minutes before Northeast jumped ahead for good with 8:37 remaining in the matchup on Smith's layup plus free throw after a foul.


The Tigers, who are receiving votes in the preseason National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll and ranked No. 25 by the Sporting News magazine, expanded their advantage to 67-58 with three consecutive treys by Kelvin Jackson, Darius Williams and Buchanan.


A three-pointer by Dillon Smith got the Bucks (4-2) within one possession of Northeast with just over three minutes left in the contest. But the Tigers were perfect at the free throw line in the final 90 seconds to clinch the marquee victory.


Northeast (3-0) held Motlow State to a season-worst in points. The Bucks were also limited to 41 rebounds and seven makes from beyond the arc, which was both their second lowest totals of the young campaign.


"I think we have a chance to be a good defensive team," said Wright. "We do a great job guarding the ball and that's huge for a good team so I'm excited. We've got a long way to go, but I like where we're headed."


The two squads exchanged the initial six baskets of the game before Motlow State edged ahead with a 9-0 run. The Bucks increased their lead to double digits at one instance, but a Williams long distance jumper cut the Tigers' deficit to 33-27 at halftime.


Smith reached double figures once again after making only one field goal in his previous outing. He accounted for 16 points, which included a six-of-seven ledger at the charity stripe, and also dished out a team-best six assists as well.


"Me and coach (Wright) had a talk and he told me for us to win big games they're going to need me to play better," Smith said. "I knocked down some big shots and I was able to get my groove back going. It was very satisfying."


Jackson recorded his first double-digit performance at Northeast with 11 points on a flawless five-of-five showing from the floor. He added six rebounds as well, which was second most for the Tigers behind Buchanan's seven.


Northeast was successful on 43.9 percent of its shot attempts and also went 75 percent from the free throw line. The Tigers had 32 points in the paint and 17 points off 18 forced turnovers.


(W) Motlow State 60, Northeast 53


LaKeiya Lane elevated the Lady Tigers to a fast start in the opening contest of the evening. She had nine points to guide Northeast to a 19-12 advantage over the Lady Bucks at the conclusion of the first quarter.


Lane went on to top all scorers with 18 points for her third consecutive game in double figures to begin the year. She also grabbed eight rebounds, which was the second most of her stellar career with the Lady Tigers.


"I think I just play my own game," said Lane. "I work hard at practice and it pays off in games. You play good defense then the offense comes easy. I've got to just keep working hard."


Northeast used an 8-0 run at the beginning of the second to expand its lead to 27-12. Tyra Tucker kicked off the scoring spurt with a bucket while Lane had a pair makes and steals in that two-minute span.


Teosha Boyd's field goal that was assisted by Shelby Wilbanks lifted the Lady Tigers (0-3) to their largest lead of the entire matchup at 33-14 with over four minutes remaining before halftime.


Northeast entered the locker room with a 33-22 margin on the scoreboard. But a nearly 10-minute drought without a basket allowed Motlow State to overtake the Lady Tigers midway through the third period.


Aundrea Adams snapped Northeast's dry spell and evened the contest at 37-37 with a layup. But a Kienya Jones offensive rebound and putback moments later pushed the Lady Bucks ahead for the remainder of the game.


Motlow State never led by more than seven points during the final quarter. Timaya Stewart's jumper from beyond the arc brought the Lady Tigers within 57-53 with 1:56 showing on the clock.


However, Northeast could not inch any closer in the waning seconds and the Lady Bucks (5-1) put the matchup out of reach with a late old-fashioned three-point play from Sara Vujacic.


"We thought we had a cushion so we came out relaxed," Lady Tigers head coach Brenda Mayes said. "We've got to constantly continue to work on them understanding to do what you did at the beginning in that game flow. We're trying to get that mindset in the second half.


"Defensively, we did a great job. We did what we were supposed to do and it looked really well. I continue to tell them to do the good stuff and let's work on correcting the things we're struggling with."


Stewart joined Lane as the only Northeast athletes to reach double figures with 11 points. Adams came close to a double-double in the post for the Lady Tigers with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.


Northeast kept Motlow State from connecting on a single three-pointer throughout the duration of the contest. The Lady Tigers shot 34.4 percent from the floor and also compiled 38 points in the paint.