Preston Odam, Correspondent
Jacksonville State women’s basketball defeated the other Jacksonville University Dolphins at the Pete Mathews Coliseum 72-59 on Saturday, Feb. 5. This victory marked the 17th win of the season for the Lady Gamecocks this season.
JSU gained an early fourth quarter lead of 22 points and had been in control of the game the entire time by outscoring the Dolphins in the first three quarters. Jacksonville University did rally in the final eight minutes of regulation scoring 26 points in that time. JSU was able to hang on to the lead to capture the Gamecocks’ eighth win in ASUN play making their record a solid 8-2 and 17-5 overall.
“We defended exceptionally well for three quarters and to start the fourth quarter we defended well but once we got that 22-point lead, we just completely stopped playing,” Head Coach Rick Pietri told JSU Sports information, “To Jacksonville’s credit, they didn’t roll over. They put their foot on the accelerator, and we couldn’t get our minds back to what we needed to be doing. They started attacking us with pressure and honestly, we had handled the pressure well up until that point, but we just got soft and weak and allowed them to really push it back from 22 all the way to seven.”
Senior guard Imari Martin led the Gamecocks with 17 points on three of four shooting from three point land. She led a total of three Gamecock players who all added double figures. Martin knocked down her 50th three-pointer of the season with her first made three of the game as well as getting to 96 career three pointers made during the game. She is only four threes away from being the second-fastest player to hit 100 threes in her JSU career. Senior Kyra Williams came off the bench and added a career high of 12 points. Junior Nekiyah Thompson added 10 points as well.
Neither team could get the lid off of the basket to begin the game as there was a near two and a half minute stretch of not scoring. Martin was able to hit the first field goal of the game to gain an early 2-0 advantage for the Gamecocks. The Dolphins would cut the lead to just two late in the first before a second chance basket from Williams gave JSU the lead 14-10 entering the second period.
For a seven minute span, the Gamecocks outscored the Dolphins 6-0 in the second quarter. Jacksonville would then go on a 9-3 run in the second quarter to trim into the JSU lead. Late in the second, Keiara Griffin hit an and-one to give the Gamecocks a 24-19 lead at the halftime break.
JSU would come out on fire in the second half by scoring 23 points in the third quarter while holding the Dolphins to 12. This scoring outburst and solid defense gave JSU a 47-31 lead at the end of the third quarter. Williams knocked down a jump shot early in the fourth quarter to grant the Gamecocks their largest lead of the game, 55-33. JU would go on to cut the lead to seven for the Gamecocks before six crucial free throw makes over the final two-minutes of regulation allowed JSU to hang on to a 72-59 win.
“The good news is we were able to hold them off. We made a bunch of free-throws late. We didn’t shoot them well for the game, but we shot them well late,” Pietri said. “We did just enough to hold them off and get a 13-point win. I’m happy that our kids were able to finish this. Now we put this behind us and move on to the next one.”
JSU continued their trend of dominating in the second half this season. The Gamecocks scored 48 points in the second half compared to only 24 points in the first half. JSU also dominated the boards grabbing 45 rebounds compared to 33 by the Dolphins. JSU won the battle for offensive rebounds as well grabbing 16 compared to the Dolphins 10. Kennedy Gavin led the way rebounding for the Gamecocks with 11 herself. This season, JSU is an impressive 13-0 when they out rebound their opponents.
The Gamecocks will head to Deland, Florida to face the Stetson Hatters for the final cross divisional matchup of the regular season on Wednesday. The game is set for a 4 p.m. tip off at the Edmunds Center. The game will be available for streaming on ESPN+ as well as WLJS 91.9 FM, JSU’s student-run radio station. Fans can stay up to date with the Lady Gamecocks on social media @JSUGamecockWBB.