Preston Odam, Correspondent
Kennedy Gavin, a senior, scored a career high 17 points to lead Jacksonville State to a 56-53 victory over in state foe Samford. This victory was the first road win of the season for the Lady Gamecocks this season as JSU traveled to Birmingham Wednesday, November 17, to take on the Bulldogs in the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University.
The win gives JSU a 2-1 record heading into a long road stint including five games away from The Pete Mathews Coliseum. Jacksonville State looks to take the momentum gained from a victory against the defending Southern Conference Champions into a battle with SEC opponent Vanderbilt on Sunday, November 21. The Gamecocks will then travel to Georgia Southern for a Thanksgiving tournament over the holiday break.
Gavin was able to get JSU off to a hot start by scoring the first six points for the Gamecocks. Although Gavin got off to a quick scoring start, she got into foul trouble early in the first half causing her to be forced to limited minutes. Gavin came out in the second half on fire just like she did in the first half. She was able to add 11 points to her total on a solid 4-of-6 shooting from the field. Gavin was also 3-of-3 from the free throw strike in the second half. Gavin finished the game shooting a stellar 6-of-8 from the field with an added 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Former SOCON player of the year, Andrea Cournoyer, led the Lady Bulldogs during the game scoring 20 points to help keep them within striking range of the Gamecocks. The first half was a half of scoring runs for both teams. While the Gamecocks came out strong to capture an early 11-1 lead, the Bulldogs quickly got back into the game to even up the score 11-11 midway through the first quarter. Jacksonville State was able to reclaim the lead late in the first quarter and finished the opening ten minutes of play leading 18-11.
The runs continued throughout the second quarter for both squads. A fourteen point run in the second led to a tied ball game of 25 to 25 heading into the halftime intermission. This run was fronted by Cournoyer for the Bulldogs. Samford and Jax State both shot relatively strong percentages in the game with defensive effort being key to victory for JSU.
Samford was able to gain a lead to end the third period of play. This lead for the Bulldogs was not enough as JSU climbed back behind a 20 point fourth quarter. JSU’s Nekiyah Thompson drilled a hugely important three pointer to grant the Gamecocks the lead that they would eventually use to win the game against their in-state rival. Kiana Johnson hit two key free throws to give the Gamecocks a three point lead with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Samford called a timeout to advance the ball and draw up a final play that would possibly force overtime. The ball was inbounded to senior post player Natalie Armstrong for the Bulldogs and she passed back out to senior guard Shauntai Battle for a three point shot that missed off the front iron.
Imari Martin was the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks as she put up nine points in the contest. Thompson and Johnson both added seven points in the competition as well. Madison McCoy was close to another double figure rebounding night as she grabbed nine boards in the game.
JSU now travels to Nashville, Tennessee to face the Vanderbilt Commodores Sunday, Nov. 21. The game is set for a 2 p.m. tip off inside the historic and unique Memorial Gym on the campus of Vanderbilt. Gamecock fans can stream the game on SEC Network+ which is the online platform for the SEC in which they collaborated with ESPN to create. After the Vanderbilt game, the Gamecocks will travel to Statesboro Georgia where Georgia Southern University is located for a Thanksgiving tournament.