Northwest Wins Back-and-Forth Thriller in Clarksdale, 82-81

by Kevin Maloney
CLARKSDALE – On an off shooting night for Northwest's leading scorer, Jitaurious Gordon, the sophomore sunk two clutch free throws with 15 seconds left to help the Rangers rally from nine down in the final six minutes and defeat a gritty Coahoma squad 82-81 Thursday night at The Pinnacle.

Northwest won its fifth straight to stay on top of the MACJC North at 2-0 and improve to 8-3 overall, while Coahoma fell to 4-7 and 1-1 in division play.

In a back-and-forth affair that featured 17 lead changes, neither team led by more than six in the first half. 

Tied at 63-63 with 8:05 to play, the Tigers scored 13 of the next 17 points, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Terry Williams, to take the largest lead of the game at 76-67.

Northwest countered with a 10-2 run to pull within 78-77 with 2:05 left thanks to six quick points from Gordon, a running jumper from Alec Rayburn and pair of free throws from Nick Edwards.

Tiras Bolden hit the front end of a two-shot foul to make it 81-78 Coahoma with 32 seconds left, but the Tigers were whistled for consecutive fouls and turned the ball over to give the Rangers new life.

After struggling all night at the line as a team, missing 15 free throws, Rayburn sunk two big ones and Gordon added two more to put Northwest up 82-81 and give Coahoma one last chance to win it.

Denori Berry's desperation 3-pointer in the corner fell just shy and Bolden's offensive rebound and tip-in were no good at the buzzer as the Rangers escaped Clarksdale with an important road victory.

Gordon led the Rangers in scoring for a sixth straight game with 16 points, while Devon Benson added 12 points and eight boards and Rayburn chipped in 12 off the bench in 17 minutes. Northwest also got solid efforts from Kendrick Fountain, Will Tribble and Quez Williamson who combined for 24 points and 25 rebounds.

Dequan Morris led four Tigers in double figures with 21 points and 13 rebounds and Robert Boyd added a double-double.

Both teams shot under 38 percent for the night and missed 30 combined free throws. 

Northwest will host division rival Northeast (11-2, 1-1 north) on Monday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Michael Gross will have the call on