Stephen Duke, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State men’s basketball team walked away with a huge win over Morehead State Saturday, January 25 with a final score of 72-51. The Gamecocks immediately walked into the matchup hoping to rebound from a tough loss of 81-77 to Eastern Kentucky earlier in the week.
In Saturday’s game, the Gamecocks took control early on and was able to keep the lead for the entirety of the matchup. Immediately taking the tip off, the Gamecocks raced out to a 12-1 scoring run, with the one point coming off a Morehead State foul shot. The Eagles then went on a 6-0 scoring run, cutting Jax State’s lead to 12-7.
After the Eagles’ 6-0 run, De’Torrion Ware hit three shots outside of the perimeter, accounting for nine of his 14 points for the game. The Gamecocks went into the half with a 43-22 lead with Morehead State’s Ta’lon Cooper already in foul trouble with two fouls early on in the game.
Morehead State’s coach lit a fire under his players in the locker room during halftime, as they roared to a 6-0 start in the second half. However, this run was ended when Kayne Henry made a layup, bringing the score to 45-28 with the Gamecocks still well in the lead.
Later in the second half, Henry scored back-to-back dunks on his way to his third double-double in four games. Derrick Cook added a three-point shot that accounted for his only points of the game.
The Gamecocks’ lead grew to as much as 24 with just under two minutes to play. Late in the game, Morehead State’s Jordan Walker fouled out, the only player for either team to do so. Once the game came to a close, the Gamecocks walked away with the win, moving them to 9-12 (4-4 OVC).
Henry led the team with 23 points, followed by 14 from Ware and 11 from Derek St. Hilaire. Elias Harden, Ty Hudson, Jacara Cross, Derrick Cook and Marek Welsch also contributed to the other 24 points for the Gamecocks.
“Coach has been hard on me. He has been telling me I need to work hard and push myself out there,” said Henry. “[Being a Leader] is an important role, one I’m not used to. I’m still getting used to the responsibility of trying to help my teammates.”
Henry also emphasized that Coach Ray Harper has been conveying to the team the importance of coming into the game with energy, especially after coming off the road tour through Illinois with the games against Eastern Illinois and SIUE.
“We were tougher. We paid attention to detail today. I thought we had gotten away from that, and it cost us in some close games,” said head coach Ray Harper. “I thought [Henry’s] energy level out there was off the charts.”
Harper also emphasized that he does not believe that Henry is close to his ceiling yet, and that is why the coaching staff is hard on him; they want to make sure that they receive maximum effort from him. Ray believes the sky’s the limit for the young junior.
The Gamecocks return to action at home this Thursday, January 30, in a matchup against the Tennessee State Tigers at 7:30 p.m.. The Gamecocks then play Belmont, a top-four team in the OVC, on Saturday February 1 at 4 p.m. Fans can check out both games in person at Pete Mathews Coliseum or on ESPN+. Fans can also listen live on the radio on 91.9 WLJS or 97.9 WVOK.