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.