Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief
CENTRE — Jacksonville State opened its 2018-19 home schedule Wednesday with a 101-61 win over Carver College in their current home away from home, the Cherokee Center and Arena in Centre.
With repairs still finishing up inside Pete Mathews Coliseum, which sustained damage from the EF-3 tornadoes that passed through Jacksonville on March 19 earlier this year, the Gamecocks took the court in Centre in front of an arena packed with area school students for a morning domination of the Cougars.
“Our players loved it. Hopefully the kids enjoyed us,” Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper said of the game’s atmosphere. “They were energized and loud. I’m sure some of these kids have never seen us play, and hopefully we can get them over to Pete Mathews at some point.”
The Cougars kept the game close through the first 10 minutes before the Gamecocks turned a 15-13 lead into a 45-27 mark at the halftime break.
Jax State cruised the rest of the way, feeding off the energy of the crowd in the second half as six different Gamecocks reached double-figures in points en route to the 40-point win, marking the third straight victory after an 0-3 start to the season.
What to know
—Those six Gamecocks in double-figures? Jason Burnell, De’Torrion Ware, Detrick Mostella, Derek St. Hilaire, Jamall Gregory and Christian Cunningham. Burnell led the Gamecocks with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Ware put up a career-high 16.
—JSU’s 101 points marked the first time the Gamecocks reached triple digits since a 100-42 win over Tennessee Wesleyan on November 10, 2017.
—Carver’s Rayford Washington had the first 11 points of the game for the Cougars, finishing with 18 overall.
—Burnell on the game: “In the first half we were a little stagnant and didn’t play our best. In the second half our energy level was up, our focus was better, and we played like the team we are.”
—Burnell on the atmosphere of the game: “The tornado was tragic, but it’s good to have somewhere to play. The community has been great with having our back and supporting us. It’s always fun and exciting to see kids out here and put smiles on their faces, we’re like role models to them.”
—Harper on the win: “In the second half we played with some energy and competed better than we did in the first half. Jason Burnell and Jamall Gregory were really focused and did a nice job, and Mostella played a lot better today.”
—Harper on the Gamecocks bouncing back after their 0-3 start: “We played three straight on the road against three good teams. I think we’ve gotten a lot better since our opening games. I don’t think we’ve lost to any bad teams, but I still don’t think we’re playing our best basketball. But that’s okay, because it’s still November.”
—JSU (3-3) will play its second straight game in their home state, as it travels west to Florence to take on North Alabama on Saturday at noon. The Gamecocks are scheduled to play their first game in the completed Pete Mathews Coliseum on Dec. 18, when UNA returns for their half of a home-and-home. Carver (0-11) will play the University of the Cumberlands on Saturday.