JSU women’s basketball defeated EKU and was honored for ASUN West Division Title

Photo courtesy of JSU Athletics

Preston Odam, Correspondent

On Thursday, the Jacksonville State women’s basketball team defeated Eastern Kentucky at home by a score of 64-51. This win gives the Lady Gamecocks another victory further adding to their single-season win record while being at the Division I level. This win marked win number 21 as the regular season begins to end as Saturday’s game will wrap up the regular season.

This 21st win gives JSU a record of 21-6 overall with a 12-3 record in ASUN play. The win Thursday also was the 12th home win this season for the Gamecocks which sets a JSU Division I record for most home victories in a single season. The Gamecocks are an impressive 12-1 in “The Pete” with one more home regular season game remaining. 

The Gamecocks, who normally shoot well at home, did not shoot a high percentage from the field overall. However, thanks to some solid team defense and high effort given to rebound the ball, the Gamecocks were able to capture the win. JSU actually converted more second-chance points in the game than the Colonels leading to a seven point margin in that area of the game, and the Gamecocks knocked down six three pointers compared to only two by EKU. 

“I was concerned about our focus because we had nothing specific to gain from a standings standpoint because our seeding is locked, but I thought our kids came out a lot more focused than I expected to be honest and I thought we defended exceptionally well,” Head Coach Rick Pietri said. “I think offensively we were rough around the edges at times, but we were timely in our scoring. Defensively we were able to hold the fort down and finish.”

Imari Martin and Kiana Johnson both added 13 points to lead the way in scoring for JSU. Freshman forward Bre’Anna Rhodes came off the bench to add eight points and three rebounds. Kennedy Gavin led the Gamecocks in rebounds in the game with eight, three of which were offensive boards. Gavin also gave the Gamecocks a solid eight points. 

After the game, the Gamecocks celebrated clinching the ASUN West Division Championship with a net cutting ceremony in which they won after a victory at Bellarmine last week. JSU won the Gulf South Conference Tournament in 1993 while they were still Division II. This West Division Title is the first of its kind for any women’s basketball program since the transition to Division I. 

“Having the opportunity to cut down nets is something special and you don’t get the chance to do that a lot,” Pietri said. “I think it was a neat experience for our team to be able to do that, so now we put that behind us and look forward to facing a really good North Alabama team on Saturday.”

JSU has secured the number one seed in the West Division for the approaching ASUN Conference Championship Tournament and they have earned a bye. This means the Gamecocks will face, at home, the winner of the No. 5 West vs. No. 4 East game in the quarterfinals on Sunday, March 6, at Pete Mathews Coliseum. Saturday, the Gamecocks look to close out the regular season against North Alabama on Senior Day. The game tips off at 3:15 p.m. The game will be available for streaming on ESPN+. 

“Saturday is Senior Day and hopefully that will motivate our kids. North Alabama is a quality opponent who is on a roll, and it will be a challenge for us, hopefully we will be up for the challenge,” Pietri said. “The good news for our players is that we don’t play for eight days after Saturday. So, we will give them a few days off. So, we can lay it all on the line Saturday because it’s the last one.”

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