Jamall Gregory throws down a dunk over a Tennessee Tech defender (JSU Athletics)
Daniel Mayes, Sports Editor
EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The journey in the tourney for the Jacksonville State men’s basketball team is officially underway.
The Gamecocks took down Tennessee Tech 73-70 in the quarterfinals of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, setting up a semifinal date with top seed Murray State.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game, but, again, we found a way,” Coach Ray Harper said after the game.
A sloppy opening to the game resulted in a 30-28 halftime lead for the Gamecocks largely thanks to the play of Marlon Hunter. Hunter was the only consistent offensive force in the first half, finishing the opening period with 12 points and six rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. Hunter would tally 18 total in the game on 8-for-12 shooting.
The Gamecocks outshot Tech 41% to 28% in the first half, but the Golden Eagles used a 12-15 free throw mark—compared to JSU’s 4-6—to remain in the game.
In the second half for the Gamecocks, senior center Norbertas Giga brought the Gamecock offense to life.
The Lithuanian big man, who made national headlines earlier in the week when he reunited with his mother after five years, was held scoreless in the first half, but burst out in the second, scoring JSU’s first six points of the half en route to 15 points on 7-for-9 from the field.
Giga sparked a 7-0 Gamecock run that pushed JSU’s lead to nine at the 13:51 mark, and the Gamecocks managed to push the lead to double digits a few minutes later.
Tennessee Tech would not go quietly, however.
The Golden Eagles made it uncomfortably close for Jacksonville State late, but thanks to some timely shots, including a Jamall Gregory Sportscenter Top 10 worthy dunk over a Tennessee Tech defender, the Gamecocks held on for a 73-70 win. Gregory would also score 18 in the game, tying Hunter’s team lead.
Jacksonville State will take on Murray State in the semifinals Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The Gamecocks split the regular season series with the 24-5 Racers, taking their home contest 76-71 before falling on the road 68-60.