Gazebo Gazette

Mississippi Gulf Coast’s change in defense sparked a huge first-half turnaround, and the men’s basketball team put together another spurt in the second half to beat East Central 83-78 in Decatur.

The Bulldogs trailed 35-22 with five minutes left in the half before switching to a zone. They ripped off 18 straight points to reverse momentum.

Calvin Johnson (So., Long Beach/Long Beach) was spectacular for Gulf Coast.

“C.J. played great,” Gulf Coast coach Tim Ryan said. “Off the bench, 20 points, 14 rebounds. That was huge; it was gigantic. He came in and really stepped it up.”

Donovan Sanders  and Melvion Flanagan  had 16 points each. Anthony Ratliff had another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Carr Thiam added 11 points.

The Bulldogs broke a 42-42 tie early in the second half with a 15-3 run and appeared to take command. The Warriors (2-1) cut it to one with exactly three minutes left, but Gulf Coast scored the next eight points to hold them off.

“Turnovers killed us,” Ryan said. “It kept them in the game.”

East Central shot 33.3 percent from the field, including less than 30 in the second half. But MGCCC’s 27 turnovers kept things interesting.

Gulf Coast travels to Poplarville on Monday to play Pearl River. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

For more information on MGCCC’s 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.