FULTON – Down 14 with less than two minutes left in regulation, Northwest stormed back with a 19-5 run to tie the game and force overtime, but the Rangers ultimately fell 90-82 to Itawamba on Thursday evening.
Northwest dropped to 10-7 overall and 3-4 in the MACJC North Division, as ICC improved to 8-10 and 2-5 in division competiton.
Northwest led by no more than two in the first half, with the last lead of 14-12 coming off Kendrick Fountain's layup with at the 9:30 mark.
From there, the Indians embarked on a 10-3 run over the next three and a half minutes to take a 22-17 advantage. Shamar Brown was the main reason for the Indians' spark, scoring eight of their points with a pair of three-pointers.
Despite the Rangers' best efforts to hang around, ICC seemed to have an answer for every Northwest basket and stretched its lead to 13 late in the first half, before Quez Williamson's three with 22 seconds cut the lead back to 10 at halftime, 37-27.
Itawamba led by double figures for most of the second half, including the game's largest lead of 16 with 10:28 to go.
With just under two minutes to go, the Rangers' fortunes began to change. Despite being in the double bonus, ICC went cold from the free throw line as the Rangers began to heat up.
Trailing by 14, Fountain sank a quick three-pointer to cut the Indians' lead to 11. After a few more missed free throws, Gordon added a pair of layups as Nick Edwards provided a layup and one, cutting the deficit to 68-63 with 59 seconds left.
Down 70-63, Gordon hit a pair of big shots from beyond the arc to bring the Rangers within two at 71-69 with 22 seconds left.
Cartisco Brown added a free throw on the other end for ICC to make it 72-69, but Gordon answered yet again with another big three to tie the game at 72-all with 10 seconds left. Itawamba tried for the game-winner but Ma'Darius Hobson's three fell short at the buzzer.
Foul trouble quickly became an issue for the Rangers in overtime, as Williamson and Gordon joined Fountain on the bench with five fouls. Itawamba also became more accurate from the charity stripe, as the Indians turned an 80-78 lead into a 10-4 run over the final two minutes, denying the comeback bid for Northwest.
After shooting 30 percent from the floor in the first half, Northwest turned it into 59 percent for the second half and 46 percent from beyond the arc. ICC owned the Rangers in points off turnovers (25-7), bench points (45-26) and second chance points (16-4).
Four Rangers finished in double figures, led by Gordon's 26-point effort and followed by 17 from Edwards, 14 from Fountain and 12 from Montez Allen.
Williamson was limited to just four points for the Rangers but led the team with 11 rebounds.
Itawamba was paced by a double-double from Anfernee Diggins (17 pts. 12 rebs.) and a 13-point showing from Hobson.
Northwest returns to Howard Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 4 against Coahoma (7-11, 2-5 division) at 7 p.m. Live video and live stats will be available via nwccrangers.com
by Brian Lentz