Daniel Mayes , Editor-in-Chief
JACKSONVILLE — It was senior night and the last home game for Jacksonville State on Saturday night, and the Gamecocks seniors certainly didn’t leave with a sour taste in their mouths.
The Gamecocks needed double-overtime to take down Eastern Kentucky in their final home contest of the year, winning 104-101 in an instant classic in the last 2018-19 game in Pete Mathews Coliseum.
After a back-and-forth wild offensive game all night, a Jamall Gregory dunk tied the game at 82-82 at the end of regulation. After a steal, Detrick Mostella nearly banked in a 3-pointer that would have won it at the buzzer.
A Ty Hudson runner at the end of the first overtime almost won it for the Gamecocks, too, but missed, and JSU needed yet another period to escape senior night with a win.
“There were a lot of twists and turns. There were times where I thought we had it, but then it went into another overtime,” JSU coach Ray Harper said after the wild game. “I thought Ty’s shot was in, and it rimmed out, and I kind of thought Mostella’s shot was going in.”
After EKU went up three in the second extra period, Marlon Hunter sank a layup, got fouled and made the free throw to tie it 99-99. Hudson then found space for a lay-in on the next possession, and the Gamecocks forced a five-second violation and turnover.
Mostella and Hudson hit free throws to close out the 104-101 victory.
What to know
—Saturday night’s game was the first double-overtime game for Jacksonville State since an 80-73 victory over Georgia State on November 22, 2008 — a span of 332 games
—Jason Burnell picked up his fourth foul with 15:38 left in the second half and sat until 4:11 left in regulation. He played the final minutes in regulation and all 10 in the two overtimes without picking up another, finishing with 18 points in the game. Gregory led JSU with 21, and Hunter and Cunningham both had 15.
—Nick Mayo scored 32 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for Eastern Kentucky (12-17, 5-11 OVC).
—The win gives the Gamecocks a new Division I mark in most conference wins. The Gamecocks have gone 13-3 in 16 OVC games this season. Their previous best conference mark was when the Gamecocks finished 12-8 in OVC games in 2005-06.
—Burnell on getting a win on senior night: “Us six seniors, we didn’t want to go out with an ‘L.’ It got ugly at times, but we gutted it out.”
—Harper on the JSU fans, who he thanked on the loudspeaker after the game: “Fans are everything. You have to have an atmosphere; you have to have excitement in the arena if you are going to have a good program. Kids want to play in that type of environment where people care. If we’re going to continue to recruit good players, we’ve got to show them that we can put people in the seats.”
—Jacksonville State (21-8, 13-3 OVC) will hit the road for their final two tune-ups before the Ohio Valley Conference tournament begins. The Gamecocks will play Eastern Illinois (14-14, 7-8) on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. before finishing out their 2018-19 regular season campaign on Saturday when they face SIUE.