Preston Odam, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team earned two more home wins this past weekend, narrowly defeating Eastern Illinois 58-56 and routing Southern Illinois 86-42.
The first game versus Eastern Illinois last Thursday, was a tough, close game where the Gamecocks had to fight to the very end to secure a victory. Freshman Keiara Griffin led the Gamecocks in scoring this go around with 14, establishing her new career high.
Juniors Imari Martin and Kyra Williams scored 10 a piece. Williams, a Jacksonville native, was able to notch her career best with the Gamecocks this game as well. Senior Jessie Day led Jax State with 10 rebounds and senior Taylor Hawks led with four assists.
After a slow first period, the Gamecocks were able to rally and play sound defense, taking a 28-20 lead into the halftime intermission.
After EIU came out of the second half fighting, they eventually gained a two-point lead over the Gamecocks midway through the third. That didn’t last as Imari Martin helped the Gamecocks roll into a 10-2 run before the Panthers would tie the ball game at 42 right before the end of the quarter.
Sophomore Nekiyah Thompson was able to hit a buzzer beater making it 44-42 Gamecocks entering the fourth.
The Lady Gamecocks were able to remain in control of the lead the entire fourth quarter. With under a minute remaining, EIU was able to get within three points, causing for an intense final stretch.
Hawks was able to sink a free throw with six seconds to put the Gamecocks up two possessions. EIU did come down and hit a three, making it a one-point Gamecock lead, but the clock was at 0.7 seconds and it was now JSU’s ball.
Jessie Day was able to officially seal the game hitting a free throw.
Next up for the Gamecocks was the Southern Illinois Cougars. The Gamecocks dominated this game from start to finish winning 86-42.
This 44-point victory was the largest margin of victory in an OVC matchup since the Gamecocks joined the conference 18 years ago. Also, head coach of the Gamecocks, Rick Pietri, tied former coach Dana Austin for most victories all time at 115 as JSU’s head coach.
Junior Imari Martin led the scoring charge for the Gamecocks with a new career-high of 21 points. Junior Kennedy Gavin also etched a new career-high in scoring with 14 and was one rebound away from a double-double with nine. Freshman Keiara Griffin did have a double-double, the first of her young Gamecock career, with 10 boards and 12 points.
The Gamecocks took a dominating lead of 38-16 into the half and never looked back. JSU came out hot in the third scoring 26 total in the quarter. This is tied for the fifth highest single quarter scoring by the team all time. JSU went on to win by an impressive 44 points.
The Jacksonville State women’s basketball team is set to face off against Belmont today at 4:30 p.m. in Pete Mathews Coliseum. The Gamecocks currently sit at 11-6 overall and 8-5 in OVC play. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+ and will be broadcast live on WLJS 91.9 FM, JSU’s student-run radio station.