Grant Benefield, Chanticleer Sports Writer
After trailing the entire second half, the Gamecocks rallied in the fourth quarter to take the lead with just 0:02 remaining and defeat OVC opponent Tennessee State.
The wild finish to Saturday’s game at Pete Mathews Coliseum came when freshman guard Taylor Hawks scored an and-1 layup that brought the Gamecocks (15-10, 9-5) within 1. Hawks would convert the ensuing free throw, tying the score at 61 with 0:15 remaining.
Sophomore guard Morgan Towells then made a great hustle play to steal the Tigers’ (5-18, 3-11) inbound pass and give the Gamecocks the opportunity they needed. With 0:02 left to play, Chloe Long would be fouled and given the chance to give her team their first lead since early in the second quarter.
Long hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts to give the Gamecocks the 62-61 lead, and that would be all the they needed, as Tennessee State would not be able to take a shot on their final possession.
Senior forward Tyler Phelion had a phenomenal day for the Gamecocks, scoring a career-high 17 points, as well as recording 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Hawks and Rayven Pearson each added 9 points, with Pearson also grabbing a game-leading 9 boards.
The Gamecocks’ Saturday started well, with the home team leading 16-12 after the first quarter.
However, a lackluster second quarter led to the Tigers outscoring the Gamecocks 26-9, giving the visitors the 38-25 lead at the half.
The Gamecocks chipped away at the Tigers’ lead in the third quarter and brought the score to within 10 to start the fourth, before the Gamecock rally led to their ninth conference win of the season. This is just the fifth time the Gamecocks have reached that mark since joining the OVC.
The Gamecocks will look to further improve that record on a 2-game road trip next week, where JSU will take on Murray State on Thursday at 5:00 and Austin Peay on Saturday at 4:30.