Tag: ncaa tournament

Gamecocks fall to Louisville in NCAA Tournament

Daniel Mayes, Staff Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS – Despite an early 10-2 lead and a career day from Norbertas Giga, the 15-seed Jacksonville State Gamecocks came up short against 2-seeded Louisville by a score of 78-63 on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Giga was huge on the biggest stage for the Gamecocks, pulling down nine rebounds and drilling all five of his 3-point attempts en route to a career-high 30 points.

However, JSU couldn’t overcome Louisville’s size, strength and tenacity inside.

The Cardinals pulled down 16 offensive rebounds to JSU’s four, leading to a 24-3 disparity in second chance points, and Louisville scored 44 points in the paint to Jacksonville State’s 14.

“The game was determined by our inability to rebound the ball,” JSU Coach Ray Harper said after the game. “It wasn’t because of a lack of effort. Their length and athleticism caused us some problems.”

Jacksonville State scored the first eight points of the game as the Cardinals struggled to find the basket early.

The Gamecocks held the lead until the 7:38 mark of the first half before a 3-pointer from Louisville’s Deng Adel gave the Cardinals their first lead.

The Cardinals built their lead up to 38-29 just before halftime, but a Tyrik Edwards layup just before the buzzer made it 38-31 at the break.

A cold stretch to start the second half sunk the Gamecocks’ chances to pull of the upset.

JSU scored just after the break, but the Gamecocks couldn’t find the basket again until the 14:29 mark, allowing the Cardinals to build a 15-point lead at 48-33.

Jacksonville State was able to cut the lead to nine with 6:53 left, but six quick points from Louisville boosted the lead back to 15, and JSU was unable to get it back within single digits the rest of the way.

Alongside Giga, Malcolm Drumwright scored 12 and Greg Tucker tallied 11 in his final game in a JSU uniform. Louisville held JSU senior Erik Durham to just two points on only one shot attempt.

Mangok Mathiang, led the Cardinals with 18 points, and Quentin Snider and Adel added 16 apiece.

Louisville Coach and Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Pitino praised Jacksonville State for their effort in the loss.

“We had relentless pressure on them. They never stopped, kept staying in the game.”

Despite closing out the season with a loss, Jacksonville State heads into the offseason with some momentum.

With a 20-win season, an OVC Championship and the program’s first ever March Madness appearance under their belt, the Gamecocks set their sights on returning to the same position next March.


JSU’s NCAA Tourney destination set

About 1,000 Gamecock fans were on hand at “The Pete” as JSU’s NCAA Tournament matchup was announced. (Daniel Mayes/ The Chanticleer)

Daniel Mayes, Staff Reporter

It’s set.

In their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, the Jacksonville State men’s basketball team will take on the Louisville Cardinals.

The OVC champion Gamecocks were named the 15-seed in the Midwest region and they will matchup with 2-seeded Louisville of the ACC in Indianapolis on Friday.

“Everyone’s excited.” JSU senior guard Greg Tucker said after the announcement. “It’s a great time to be a Gamecock.”

The team learned their tournament fate during a watch party at Pete Mathews Coliseum on Sunday.

Before the bracket was revealed, the team greeted fans in the lobby of the coliseum and signed 2017 OVC Championship commemorative posters.

The OVC Championship trophy was also available in the lobby for Gamecock fans to view and take pictures with.

The team then moved onto the court, where a projector screen was set up for the watch party.

Approximately 1,000 fans gathered in “The Pete” to cheer on Jax State as they watched the selection show, and CBS cameras were there to capture the team’s reaction.

When Jacksonville State’s seed was announced, the team, along with the crowd, stood up and cheered.

Although the NCAA Tournament is a new experience for Jacksonville State University and its players, the coaches know what to expect in the “big dance.”

“Every member of the [JSU coaching] staff has been a part of an NCAA Tournament, so we know what the experience is going to be like,” Coach Ray Harper said. “We’ve just got to stay focused on what’s important.”

Louisville, who comes into the game against JSU with a record of 24-8, were seeded fourth in the ACC Tournament, but lost to eventual ACC champion Duke in the quarterfinals.

Friday’s game between Gamecocks and Cardinals will tip at about 1:45 p.m. central time on Friday, March 17 inside Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The matchup will be televised on CBS, with Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson on the call.

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Dances with Gamecocks: JSU defeats UT Martin to win OVC, secure spot in NCAA Tourney


The Jacksonville State Gamecocks pose with their new OVC Championship hardware. (Daniel Mayes/TheChanticleer)

Daniel Mayes, Staff Reporter

“We left Jacksonville with one thing in mind,” Coach Ray Harper said. “We didn’t come here to play one game; we came here on a mission.”

Mission accomplished.

Jacksonville State took down UT Martin 66-55 in the Ohio Valley Tournament Final on Saturday night to secure JSU’s first OVC title and the program’s first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Harper, who took over a JSU program that went just 8-23 last season and missed out on the OVC tournament, led the team to an immediate turnaround to a 20-win season, one of the best in Jacksonville State basketball history since they moved to Division I in 1995.

“We’re trying to build something at Jacksonville State,” Harper said after the win, “and you’ve got to walk before you can run, but we decided to run a little quicker than anyone thought.”

Balanced scoring, the hallmark of this JSU team, led the Gamecocks to victory on Saturday.

Seniors Erik Durham and Greg Tucker scored 17 and 14 respectively, and Malcolm Drumwright, who was named the tournament MVP, tallied 13. Three other Gamecocks, Norbertas Giga, Tyrik Edwards and Jacara Cross, chipped in with six key points apiece.

Christian Cunningham contributed with 11 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end.

Jacksonville State and UT Martin exchanged made 3-point baskets to begin the game, as UTM’s Jacolby Mobley drained one to open scoring, but Durham answered just seconds later.

Durham’s bucket was the beginning of yet another period of hot-shooting in Nashville for the Gamecocks.

Jacksonville State knocked down six threes in the first half against the Skyhawks. The Gamecocks hit on 41.3% of their attempts from downtown throughout the tournament and made a season-high 12 in the quarterfinal win over SEMO.

UT Martin held a 7-6 lead with 13:14 remaining in the first half, but a Greg Tucker jumper gave the Gamecocks back a lead that they would not give up again.

Tucker, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, scored 14 in the opening frame to lead all scorers in the period, but was limited in the second half due to foul trouble and held scoreless.

Thanks to a 10-1 run to end the first half, which was capped by a Tyrik Edwards lay-in at the buzzer, Jacksonville State took a 36-23 lead into the locker room.

The Gamecocks struggled to score to open the second half, and after Giga drained a free throw to make the score 37-23, the Skyhawks scored eight straight points to cut the score to 37-31.

That was as close as Martin would come for the rest of the game however, as Durham finally hit JSU’s first basket of the second half with 11:43 remaining, and then Giga threw home a huge dunk to stretch the lead back to double-digits.

The Gamecocks maintained a lead the rest of the way, as they answered every Skyhawk comeback attempt with points of their own.

With under a minute remaining, Drumwright and Durham both went 2-2 on trips to the line to ice the game at 66-55.

Drumwright dribbled out the final seconds before the Gamecock celebration began.

Jacksonville State, who was the first school to officially punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament, must now wait to find out who they will play.

The tournament bracket will be finalized on Sunday, March 12 after the conclusion of the remaining conference tournaments next weekend.

Check out video of the Gamecocks’ postgame celebration and press conference below: