Stephen Duke, Correspondent
After starting off OVC conference play with two impressive wins, the JSU men’s basketball team suffered back-to-back defeats at home to Murray State with a final score of 68-72 and Austin Peay with a final score of 67-71. These matchups bring the Gamecocks overall record to 7-10 (2-2 OVC).
The first of these defeats came Thursday, Jan. 9, night against Murray State. The Gamecocks led by as much as five points in this matchup, but the Racers went on a scoring run that the Gamecocks could not jump back form.
Despite the loss, Jacara Cross had yet another big game for the Gamecocks with 16 points. Meanwhile, Tevin Brown led in scoring with 24 points, and Elias Harden, De’Torrion Ware and Martin Roub each tallied eight points in the defeat.
The Gamecocks hoped to rebound Saturday against Austin Peay, but things would not go as planned despite great effort. The Gamecocks and the Governors tipped off after severe weather blew through the area, causing many to take shelter as a precautionary measure.
After the storms blew through, the Gamecocks got off to a fast start, took a commanding 16-0 lead through the first five minutes of play, the best start the Gamecocks have had all season. During this run, Martin Roub hit a couple of three-point shots to help lead the offense.
The Governors missed their first eight shooting attempts while the Gamecocks also out rebounded the Governors 12-1 during that stretch. Derrick Cook led the offense with nine points at the half, and despite an Austin Peay surge, the Gamecocks led by 10 at the half with a score of 36-26.
Austin Peay came out with a hot start in the second half, cutting the Gamecock lead to three. The Governors brought the score to within one on two separate occasions midway through the half, but the Gamecocks scored a combined twelve points to counter.
The Governors didn’t go away without a fight, however. They claimed their first lead of the night by using a pair of free throws and a basket from their top scorer to take the lead, 65-63 with about a minute to go.
The Governors extended their lead when Terry Taylor and Jordyn Adams scored a combined four points from the free-throw line. A couple of free throws from De’Torrion Ware and a layup from Marek Welsch cut the difference to within two, at 69-67. With three seconds left to play in the game, however, two more foul shots from Adams sealed away the game, bringing the game to a close.
A total of 20 turnovers is what ultimately plagued the Gamecocks and led to their demise against Austin Peay. The 20 turnovers were the most since the Alabama A&M game on December 7.
Elias Harden led the team with 15 points scored, while Ware scored 13 and Cook contributed 11 points.
The Gamecocks will travel the road this week. They play in Illinois for both games, playing Eastern Illinois at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 16 and SIUE Saturday, January 18 at 1 p.m. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.