Tag: Rayven Pearson

Don’t overlook what Pietri and the Gamecocks are doing this season

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Chris Allen Brown, Associate Editor

Jacksonville State women’s basketball team’s last-second 62-61 win over Tennessee State Saturday afternoon got me thinking — the Gamecocks are quietly having a remarkable season.

Yes, Rick Pietri’s squad dropped back-to-back games against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville then Tennessee Tech, but the win against the Tigers over the weekend will all but send the Gamecocks to Evansville, Indiana for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament for the third time under Pietri and the first since 2014.

Early in the season, Jacksonville State held a first-quarter lead against nationally-ranked Florida State, and, despite scoring woes during the third quarter, the Gamecocks bounced back in the fourth to show their fight. JSU also has notable non-conference wins against Rhode Island, Eastern Carolina and New Orleans. It had a chance against Miami (Ohio) University, but a late fourth-quarter rally came up short.

In conference play, wins over Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and Tennessee State had Jacksonville State sitting atop the OVC standings at the turn of the calendar. The Gamecocks responded from a 16-point loss at Belmont with wins over Murray State, Austin Peay and Morehead State. JSU dropped the next two by a combined eight points, before knocking off Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Illinois, which lead into the losses against SIUE and TTU.

Four games remain on the regular-season schedule, including road games at Murray State, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. The lone remaining game inside Pete Mathews Coliseum for Pietri and his players is about Belmont, which this week broke into the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history.

The thing with this team, as Pietri has noted before, is everyone is in it together. Everyone isn’t playing for themselves, but rather the name on the front of the jerseys.

You won’t find any player winning OVC Player of the Week, because everyone would rather help a teammate score rather than score themselves. For example, on a 2-on-1 breakaway fast break against TSU last weekend, freshman Taylor Hawks and senior Tasha Magruder passed the ball between themselves twice to make sure one had the great shot rather than a good shot.

11 players have seen game action in 17-or-more games. Of those players, every player has double-digit assists with Hawks leading the way with 74. Magruder (44), Leah Strain (37) and Rayven Pearson (32) are next on the list.

Speaking of Pearson, if she isn’t on a postseason All-OVC team, it’ll be a shame. The junior forward from Hazel Green, Ala., is averaging 9.1 rebounds, 8.6 points, 1.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.8 steals in 22.2 minutes per game. She also has seven points and rebounds double-doubles on the season.

The same can be said for Hawks and her 8.3 points, 2.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 steal stat line in 20.1 minutes per game as a true freshman.

However, besides the assist totals and the defensive stops, maybe the most impressive stat is how Jacksonville State is 10-3 in home games this season.

Each coach will always say they want to make every home game as tough as possible, but it’s all talk until the players back it up. And right now, despite only having one home game left this season, Pietri’s players have backed up the talk.


Gamecocks take down EIU, fall to SIUE

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Rayven Pearson’s 13 points helped JSU earn its first road win at EIU in 11 years (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Hannah Grant, Staff Sports Writer

The Gamecocks took home 1-1 record and a setback to third place in the Ohio Valley Conference standings from their trip to Illinois. The women’s team (14-9, 8-4 OVC) are staying afloat in the league race during their best start to a season since joining the league in 2004.

The Illinois series began on Thursday evening in Charleston, Illinois to face off Eastern Illinois. The Gamecocks snapped a road losing streak against the Panthers with their 59-50 win, the first in 11 years inside EIU’s Lantz Arena.

JSU started the game with a 16-2 lead and led for the first 18 minutes of action. The Panthers stormed back into the game however, using an 11-0 run in the final three minutes of the second quarter to erase the Gamecock lead and take a three-point advantage of their own, 28-25 at the halftime break.

Senior Rayven Pearson, who finished the game as a leading scorer with 13 points, helped the Gamecocks bounce back after the half, and JSU outscored the Panthers 13-7 in the third to regain the advantage.

Jax State outpaced EIU again in the fourth and left Lantz Arena with a 59-50 win.

The victory marks win number 70 for Rick Pietri as Head Coach at JSU, making him just the third coach in school history to reach that total.

On Saturday evening, JSU took a trip to fight for the right to second place in OVC play against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

The Gamecocks found trouble in Edwardsville as they fell to the Cougars 41-65.

SIUE showed dominance in both offense and defense right from the tip, and the Cougars maintained a lead each in quarter. The Cougars held a huge lead over JSU to 29-9 three minutes into the second quarter and 32-17 at the half.

JSU inched their way back into the game, and a 10-0 run in the third quarter left the Gamecocks only trailing 41-38. SIUE took advantage of the home court, however, outscoring JSU 24-3 in the final minutes to run away with the game. JSU made just 15-55 shots overall and 5-24 from beyond the arc.

Freshman Taylor Hawks added another consecutive double-digit scoring night with the team high 12 points, being the only JSU player to reach double-digits. Since entering OVC play, the Georgia native has averaged 9.6 points per game which is right under senior Tyler Phelion’s 10 points per game average. Kiana Johnson contributed 6 points and 6 rebounds.

JSU returns to their home court on Feb. 8 against Tennessee Tech at 11:30 a.m. for the annual Education Day game for local city school students.