Daniel Mayes, Sports Editor
After a comeback win over Austin Peay to match the program best OVC win total with 11, the Jacksonville State women’s squad fell hard to Belmont in their final home game of the season.
On Saturday, the Gamecocks overcame a fourth quarter deficit of at least seven points for the third consecutive game, taking down Austin Peay 51-50 for their program-best matching win.
After trailing by nine to begin the quarter, Jacksonville State worked its way back into the game, and, trailing by one with just five seconds left, Tasha Magruder was fouled.
Magruder hit on just 14% of her free throws coming into the game, but she calmly drilled both to give the Gamecocks the lead and, eventually, the win.
Tyler “Cocoa” Phelion stuffed the final shot attempt from the Governors to seal the victory.
Phelion scored 10 for the Gamecocks, and Chloe Long put up a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
On Wednesday night’s final game of the season in Pete Mathews, the Gamecocks got off to a promising start for an upset bid against the conference’s top seed, No. 23 ranked and OVC unbeaten Belmont.
The first quarter was a defensive slugfest, and a Belmont bucket with just 3 seconds remaining gave the Bruins a 9-8 lead at the end of the first.
The Gamecocks were prepared to continue the defensive battle, but Belmont didn’t get the memo.
The Bruins turned on the offensive firepower in the second quarter, leaving the Gamecocks searching for answers and with a 29-14 deficit.
Belmont scored 20 in both the second and third quarter, while the Gamecocks didn’t manage to crack double-digits in a single frame until the fourth thanks to their 19% shooting clip.
Belmont cruised to the 66-35 win.
Magruder was the Gamecocks’ leading scorer with just six, and all of those came just after halftime as the Gamecocks briefly cut the Belmont lead.
Despite the loss, the Gamecocks will make an appearance in the OVC Tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season, as JSU has locked up either the four or five-seed in the tourney.
Jax State will face Morehead State in the first round on Thursday, March 1 in Evansville, Indiana’s Ford Center.
Before that, however, Jacksonville State will have one more chance to set a new program-record OVC win total and tune up for tournament play Saturday in Cookeville, Tennessee, as the Gamecocks take on Tennessee Tech.
Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. for the final regular season game for the Gamecocks.