Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief
EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The Jacksonville State Women’s basketball team finished the regular season strong to earn their seventh spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, but two-seeded Morehead State ended the Gamecocks’ run 77-60in the first round Wednesday.
The Gamecocks won four of their final five to secure a spot in the tournament, including a 68-57 win over the same Morehead State team Feb.21, but a tournament-ready Eagles team proved to be too much for JSU to handle on Wednesday.
Turnovers and Morehead State offensive rebounds sunk the Gamecocks. In the first half, Jacksonville State committed 10 turnovers that lead to 11 MSU points, and the Eagles scored 10 second chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. The Gamecocks forced just two turnovers and pulled down three offensive boards during the half.
The Gamecocks started off 4-for-4 from the field to keep pace with Morehead State early, but as JSU cooled off, the Eagles heated up.
Morehead State jumped out to a 22-13 advantage at the end of one, then started the second on a 12-0 run to take command. A Brianna Perry three-pointer just before halftime cut the MSU lead to 42-23 at the break.
Jacksonville State rebounded in the second half, but the damage was already done, as Morehead State cruised through the final two frames to take the game and move on to the semifinals of the OVC tournament.
What to Know
—JSU Senior Rayven Pearson, who was named First-team All-OVC on Tuesday, had a strong game to finish out her JSU career. Pearson scored 17 points and pulled down 14 boards to lead the Gamecocks in both categories.
—Morehead State had a trio of players turn in big scoring days. Darianne Seward led all scorers with 26, while Miranda Crockett scored 24 and McKenzie Calvert had 16. All three were in double-digits before halftime.
—In a season where defense has been a calling card for the Gamecocks, JSU struggled to stop Morehead State throughout the game. Morehead State’s 42 first-half points were the second most given up by the Gamecocks in the first half all year long after JSU gave up 45 to Troy in December.
—Pietri on the finish to the season for the Gamecocks: “After nine conference games at the end of January, we were 3-6 in the league. These kids deserve a lot of credit for rallying and even putting themselves into position to be where we ended up.”
—Morehead State coach Greg Todd on facing the Gamecock defense: “Offensively, to be able to score the amount of points we did in the first half against probably the best defensive team in our league was awesome.”
—Pearson on playing her last game in a JSU uniform: “Coming into this game, you know it could be your last game or you could keep going, so I just tried to go out there, played my role, and tried to help my team out as much as I could.”
—After falling in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, Jacksonville State closes out their 2018-19 campaign with a record of 15-15 (9-10 OVC). Morehead State (23-9, 14-5) advances to the semifinal round on Friday, where they will await the winner of the matchup between Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay on Thursday.