On Wednesday Oct. 30 in their exhibition game against Berry College, the Jacksonville State Women’s basketball team dominated on the court putting an impressive triple digit score on the board, with a final score of 104-37. The Gamecocks well outshot, out-rebounded and overall outplayed the Vikings throughout the entirety of the matchup.
On Saturday, the Jacksonville State women’s basketball team welcomed an Eastern Kentucky team that came in winless in the OVC, but it would be a fight to the very last minute to decide a winner.
The Gamecocks overcame a slow start to EKU to get a 69-64 win in their last home game of the regular season.
Eastern Kentucky marched up to a 15-7 lead heading into the second quarter. But that hot start for the Colonels quickly turned cold.
JSU quickly stormed back with a 14-4 run in the second quarter. However, the Gamecocks were not taking brilliant shots throughout the game.
The Gamecocks shot the three-point shot sixteen times in the first half, only making two. JSU shot fifteen times inside the key as well. But the percentage of shots made inside the key compared to outside of the key in the first half was vastly different.
Eastern Kentucky in the second half came out firing shot after shot. But JSU also came with a game plan of their own. The Gamecocks knew that shooting the three ball was not working. That’s when the halftime adjustments came in. Instead of shooting outside the key, the Gamecocks started playing aggressive basketball by driving the ball inside the paint and forcing fouls.
This is where the Gamecocks saw a massive difference with their offensive production. JSU made it to the free throw line ten times in the first half. In the second half, with playing aggressive defense and driving to the basket more, it was drastically better. Twenty-nine times the Gamecocks made the free throw line in the second half. Of those twenty-nine opportunities, the Gamecocks made it count making 62 percent of their free throws. Compared to the first half of just 33 percent made in the free throw line, it progressed.
The Gamecocks forced twenty-three turnovers on Saturday. With that, they scored twenty-six points from those turnovers. This gave the Gamecocks an advantage in this game against the Colonels.
With that, JSU also had something beneficial go their way as well. While the starters for the Gamecocks showed out, the bench showed they could play some basketball as well. The bench had a total thirty-six points added to the scorecard of this game.
Even with the Gamecocks doing all the little things right in the second half, Eastern Kentucky found a way to keep the game competitive. The Colonels shot a whopping 68% shot percentage in the second half. For a team that is winless in the OVC, that’s impressive. However, it wouldn’t be enough.
With all of this going into effect, Jacksonville State eventually found a way to pull off the win 69-64. This was also Senior Night for the JSU Women’s Basketball team. Two Gamecocks said goodbye to Pete Matthews Coliseum Saturday night. But what they did for their final night at JSU was something special.
Senior Rayven Pearson was the star of the night for the Gamecocks. Pearson had a career night for her last time playing at JSU. She scored a career-high with twenty points while also adding twelve rebounds to her stats.
Another Senior recognized on Senior Night for the Gamecocks was Brianna Perry. Perry had a quite impressive night for her last time playing at JSU as well. Perry had six points but also had three steals to go to her stats as well.
This win for the Gamecocks puts them over the .500 mark at 14-13 and at .500 in Conference play (8-8) in the OVC.
Up next for the Gamecocks they will be facing Eastern Illinois on Thursday on the road. On Saturday, JSU will travel to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The chase for the NCAA Tournament has officially begun for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
Jacksonville State University (18-11, 12-6 OVC) defeated Tennessee Tech 73-59 Saturday, Feb. 24 in their last game of the regular season, earning the fourth seed in the OVC tournament.
JSU finished the first half off a three by the freshman guard, Taylor Hawks to seal a 14-point lead, 39-25 going into the third quarter. This would be Taylor Hawks’ thirteenth point in the first half alone when on average she scores 8.6 points throughout an entire game.
Tennessee Tech struggled to keep the ball in their own hands, allowing themselves to turn the ball over 11 times in the first half, compared to Jacksonville State’s five.
With 6:18 left in the final quarter, the Golden Eagles cut the lead to seven from a layup by Kentoria Alexander.
As soon as Tennessee Tech seemed to get into a rhythm and ride momentum for a comeback, the Gamecock defense stepped up. For the next 3:15 the Golden Eagles did not score another point thanks to the swarming Gamecock defense protecting the paint and forcing two turnovers.
In that time frame, the Gamecocks built back up a 13-point lead and did not slow down from there. In the final three minutes of their final game of the regular season, Jacksonville State scored on 10 out of 12 free throws to solidify a victory in the opponent’s arena.
The Gamecocks won with balanced scoring by having seven players with at least five points.
Tyler Phelion finished as the team’s leading scorer with a season-high 20 points while also putting up eight boards and two blocks.
Taylor Hawks scored 15 points along with an impactful three steals in 30 minutes of playing time.
The greatest difference between the two teams came in the form of points off turnovers, where the Gamecocks scored 28 points off 21 turnovers, while Tennessee Tech scored just nine points off only 11 turnovers.
The Jacksonville State bench also outscored the Golden Eagles by a total of 14 points, 25-11.
Jacksonville State finishes the season as the fourth-ranked team in the Ohio Valley Conference with a conference record of 12-6, a school record for conference victories since moving to Division I.
In the upcoming OVC tournament, Jacksonville State will play fifth-seeded Morehead State (21-10, 12-6 OVC).
JSU defeated Morehead State in each of their matchups in the season, 70-64 and 65-67, respectively. In both competitions, JSU’s bench outscored Morehead State’s bench by a large margin. Morehead State is coming off a victory against Eastern Kentucky 62-51.
This matchup in the OVC championship tournament will be played Thursday, March 1 at 1:00 p.m. in Evansville, Indiana. It can be watched on ESPN3 or the OVC Digital Network.
The winner will move on to face go the winner of the game between first-seeded Belmont (18-0 OVC) and eighth-ranked Murray State (7-11 OVC).
Seven. That’s how many conference games it took Rick Pietri and the 2017 Jacksonville State women’s basketball team to match its Ohio Valley Conference win total from a year ago.
But wait, there’s more.
Sporting a 12-7 record at the moment, if JSU earns two more wins during its remaining 10 games, that will allow the Gamecocks to surpass last year’s overall win total (13) and be the most since Jacksonville State went 19-10 during the 2014-15 season, which was when JSU knocked off SEC foe Alabama in Tuscaloosa 64-62 on a last-minute basket by Destiny McLin.
The common thread between the two teams is on the defensive end of the court.
At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Pietri and his players held seven of their first eight opponents to under 60 points — Alabama being the exception — en route to 9-3 non-conference record. During OVC play, the Gamecocks held five opponents under that mark.
Fast forward to this year and the Gamecocks have held 12 of its opponents under the 60-point mark and eight of those performances resulted in victories for JSU.
There’s been a youth surge, too.
Six of 16 players listed on the roster are either true or redshirt-freshman. Ki-Ki Patterson, Gretchen Morrison, Tyler “Cocoa” Phelion and Tasha Magruder make up the senior class, while Leah Strain, Destiney Elliott, Brianna Perry and Rayven Pearson are redshirt or true juniors. Morgan Towells is the lone sophomore on the team.
Of those six freshmen, Taylor Hawks, Kiana Johnson, Jayla Walker are seeing significant playing time. Hawks, specially, has started the last 11 games for Pietri and is shooting 40 percent from the field with 50 assists to 35 turnovers and 11 steals for the year. Johnson, like Hawks, has started the last 11 JSU games and has scored in double-figures against Morehead State twice and against Murray State.
But no one player on the roster has had such a positive impact as Pearson, who has started the last 11 games. The Hazel Green native is averaging 9.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in 430 minutes of game action. She’s also blocked 22 shots, credited with 16 steals and 25 assists during the season.
In a final tune-up before kicking off their regular season on the 10th, Jacksonville State women’s basketball defeated Alabama-Huntsville 63-47 at home on Sunday.
Despite having to replace three of last year’s starters and welcome seven new faces to the team, the Gamecocks exercised superb ball control against the Chargers, taking 72 shots to UAH’s 42 and surrendering just nine turnovers to the Chargers’ 23.
UAH led the Gamecocks 14-13 after the first period, but JSU took the lead in the second and didn’t look back, outscoring the Chargers 17-11, 20-12, and 13-10 across the final three periods.
JSU’s two returning starters, senior forwards Cocoa Phelion and Tasha Magruder, had solid days contributing four points each in their 24 and 22 minutes played, respectively.
Phelion also added 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
But it was newcomer Brianna Perry who led the way for the Gamecocks on Sunday.
In 12 minutes of playing time, the junior guard from Mesquite, TX, went 3-13 from the field, including one 3-point basket, for 13 points.
She also collected 6 rebounds and four assists.
Gamecocks Chloe Long and Kiana Johnson also contributed to the Jax State offense, scoring eight points each. Long also grabbed five boards and dished two assists.
For UAH, Chandler Elder led the team with 18 points on 6-11 shooting from the field.
She also added four rebounds and two steals.
With the promising exhibition performance under their belt, The Gamecocks look primed to improve on last year’s performance in 2017-18. Last year, Jax State went 13-15 overall and 6-10 in OVC play, just missing out on an OVC tournament appearance.
This will be head coach Rick Pietri’s fifth season at the helm of the women’s basketball team, and he has already become the fourth winningest coach in the program’s history, and the second winningest coach since the team moved to Division I in 1995.
Pietri also won 2013-14 OVC Coach of the Year honors.
The Gamecocks will open their regular season schedule on November 10th as they host Brewton-Parker at 5:30 pm.