-Andy O’Brien, Assistant Editor
The Choctaws have lost three consecutive games and have fallen to a 7-8 record on the year. In Gulf South Conference play, MC’s men are now 5-8 this season.
Prior to the recent skid, the Choctaws had won five of six and looked promising. That tune changed when Delta State (then 11-6, 8-3 GSC) came to Clinton over the long holiday weekend a few weeks ago. After falling to the in-state rival Fighting Okra, 77-66, the Choctaws hit the road to take on West Georgia and West Alabama, two teams that led the GSC with seven conference wins.
MC led West Georgia 85-81, but let the Wolves rallied back for an 86-85 win. Tory Rice, who leads the Choctaws with an average of 16 points per game, lit up the scoreboard for 28 in the loss. Tristan Moore tallied 14 assists and pulled down 8 rebounds.
In their most recent contest, the Choctaws took on West Alabama and fell 74-58. Moore again led the Choctaws, this time with 19 points. Rice earned his ninth double-double of the year, notching 10 points and the same number of rebounds.
While the three losses, and the most recent 16-point defeat, paint a dreary picture, there are brighter days ahead for Mississippi College basketball. This time a year ago, against Division III talent, the Choctaws only had five wins, two less than their current 7-8 record boasts. The transition to becoming successful in Division II will take time. The fact that the Choctaws have proven that they can be competitive now is impressive.
Furthermore, head coach Don Lofton seems to have a knack for winning at the end of the year. In the past three seasons, the Choctaws are 10-5 in their last five games.
Next up for MC is Christian Brothers University (9-8, 6-7 GSC), who will travel to the Golden Dome on Thursday, Jan. 29. Then, on Saturday the 31, Union (14-5, 8-5) will make a visit. Each of these teams have beaten the Choctaws already this season.
The Lady Choctaws have now lost two straight, and dipped below .500 themselves. After defeating Delta State at home, they lost both road contests of the weekend to fall to 8-9 on the year (4-9 GSC).
MC has still produced four conference wins, with nine games still to be played. As a team transitioning from a lower division, every win is a feat.
Ashley Minor and Kristen Sampson, both juniors, have shared the spotlight averaging 12 points per game each. Zaneta Kubicka has proven to be a powerful force under the basket, leading the Lady Choctaws with 21 blocks while also adding 80 rebounds. AnnMarie Harris leads MC with 107 boards on the year.
The Lady Choctaws will play the same schedule as the men for the rest of the season, which means their next game will also be against Christian Brothers on Thursday. The women will tip off at 6 p.m., and the men will follow at 8 p.m. in the Coliseum.