It was a hard earned battle for the JSU women Monday night as they defeated the Cougars of SIUE 71-68.
While the Cougars managed to pull within three with less than three minutes left the Gamecocks held them off and earned themselves a second consecutive OVC win.
The Cougars led early 13-9 but after a few shots by Briana Benson and LeCresha Horton then a three-pointer by Candace Morton JSU stole the lead. It wasn’t until around the seven minute mark that SIUE’s dramatic turnaround began. Down by 19 the Cougars used three minutes and five seconds to mount the 19-3 run that brought them within three points.
The score sat at 64-61 with 2:39 left to play and after scoreless possessions on both sides JSU’s Miranda Cantrell hit a free throw to bump the Gamecocks’ lead up another point. Another minute had ticked off the clock before the Cougars Micah Jones managed to score two. It was Candace Morton who hit a basket from the baseline that moved the Gamecocks back up ahead by four.
The score was 67-66 after a Cougars’ three-pointer made by Jessie Wendt had brought them back in range of JSU. But freshman Briana Benson then completed two free throws with eight seconds left in the game to push JSU’s lead back out to three.
SIUE was not finished yet and Coco Moore made two free throws of her own with four seconds left to push the Cougars back within one.
With three seconds left in the game Candace Morton nailed two more free throws and all but ended the game there. SIUE had one more opportunity to send the game into overtime but the attempted three-pointer as the buzzer sounded was blocked by the Gamecocks.
This marks the first time since 2011 that the Gamecocks have had back-to-back victories in the OVC and the first time since 2008 they have had back-to-back OVC victories at home.
The Gamecocks had four players finish with scoring numbers in the double digits. Candace Morton led the night with 17. Destany McLin had 16 points, while Briana Benson had 13 and Miranda Cantrell added 11. This was Benson’s second straight game with double digit scoring marks after she made 10 points Saturday against Eastern Illinois.
It was a season best for JSU as they made 50% of the shots that they took. SIUE made 45% of their shots and their best shooter for the team was Coco Moore who had the game-high 25 points.