Jamerious Borden, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State men’s basketball team earned its fourth road victory in a row on Saturday with a 66-54 win over Southeast Missouri at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The Gamecocks (12-7, 8-5 OVC) were absolutely relentless on defense, holding the Redhawks (7-12, 5-8 OVC) to just 33% shooting (17-for-51) while crashing the boards for a 44-32 rebounding advantage. In the second half, SEMO hit just 7 of 24 shot attempts (29.2 percent).
“I thought we were really locked in to what we were trying to do defensively,” head coach Ray Harper said. “I thought we went after rebounds like we need to do on a consistent basis. We struggled a few times in the first half on the offensive end, but we only down one at the half because we defended. And then I thought we stepped it up another level in the second half.”
The first half belonged to the Redhawks on the offensive end. Even though the Gamecocks grabbed a brief lead on a 7-0 run and a Darian Adams 3-pointer, the Redhawks managed to answer with a six-point run to erase the hot streak.
Despite turning the ball over nine times, Jacksonville State ended the first half just one point off the lead, 29-28, thanks to a stretch in the final five minutes of the period when the Gamecocks outscored SEMO 11-5. Amanze Ngumezi led the scoring in the opening 20 minutes, hitting 3-of-4 shots for six points.
The second half belonged almost entirely to Jax State. Jay Pal hit a three-pointer prior to the first media timeout, pushing a scoring streak to seven with the triple. Then, the clip changed when Jax State went up by 17 after going on a 15-1 run with less than seven minutes to play, which led to SEMO getting outscored 28-10.
Finch came alive for 12 points in the second driving the lane for 10 while hitting a pair of free throws. Adams backed him up with eight points in the final period, and ended the night with 12 points while Ngumezi finished with 12 before fouling out.
For SEMO, guards DQ Nicholas and Eric Reed Jr. scored 13 and 12, respectively. Jacksonville State’s defense held leading-scorer Chris Harris to 0-for-9 shooting with only a pair of made free throws.
After four straight road victories, the Gamecocks return home tonight to host Eastern Illinois. Tip-off at Pete Mathews Coliseum is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and broadcast on WLJS 91.9 FM, JSU’s student-run radio station.
As announced late this week, JSU’s second contest against SIUE — originally scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15 — has been postponed. A make up date has not been announced.