Justin Travis, Correspondent
Looking to build on their three game winning streak to finish the season out on a high note, the Gamecocks win 69-52 on an emotional Senior Day. In a big game against lowly division rival North Alabama, JSU players, coaches, and fans honor seniors Kayne Henry, Jalen Gibbs, Darian Adams, and Brandon Huffman.
Jacksonville State started rolling early on, picking up where they left off in the previous games, playing strong defense and running half-court offense to perfection to take an early 7-0 lead. Over the next few minutes JSU went on a long scoring drought which was capitalized on by North Alabama to tie the game at nine. The Lions were being carried by Daniel Ortiz, who seemed to have the answers to the tough test that is the Gamecocks defense, scoring in a myriad of ways.
As the time continued to wind off the clock of the first half, it became very evident that this would be a low scoring game defined by both teams’ defense. A big three point make by Darian Adams allowed JSU to take a four point lead going into the half. Daniel Ortiz led the way for the Lions as he had 21 of his team’s 26 points at the half. The Gamecocks were led at the half by Jalen Gibbs, with 10 points.
This game was going to be determined by whichever team could cut out the turnovers in the second half, and find their offense first. The whistles came out early and often to start the second half, as the referees looked to clean up the physical defensive play. JSU was able to connect on a couple of and-one plays to take a 46-31 lead after the first five minutes in the second half. The Gamecocks were able to stay consistent on defense and find rhythm on the offense enough to take a 17 point lead in the second half.
A pair of Demaree King threes from the right corner, directly in front of his bench, sealed the game for JSU as the second half winded down. The game ended with the four seniors combining for 38 points, 17 rebounds, five steals, and four blocks. Capping an excellent season for the fantastic four with the ASUN crown.
The Jacksonville State Gamecocks (20-9) will return to action, as the number one seed, in the ASUN Conference Tournament.