Gamecock Women, Pietri Get First Win
It took the Jacksonville State’s women’s basketball team 27 games to get their first win last season.
This season, they only needed four as they soundly defeated Kennesaw State 78-65 Wednesday.
“I think it’s really important to win this early because it helps reinforce the fact that the concepts we are bringing can yield success,” JSU head coach Rick Pietri said. “It gives them confidence in the concepts which gives us a chance to be successful moving down the road. ”
The Gamecocks (1-3) led the entire game. They led by as many as 28 points with 4:56 remaining in the game. Kennesaw State (1-4) closed the gap after JSU went in cruise control. But, the Gamecocks were not giving this one away.
The excitement over the win was shared by the players and the administration in attendance. President William Meehan and Athletic Director Warrren Koegel made their way to the locker room after the game to personally congratulate the Gamecocks.
“It felt awesome,” junior Guard Bria’unna Buckner said. “They just told us good win. They know it’s the first of many.”
Added Pietri: “What I explaind to our players, this just shows you how much people care. Sometimes they can get caught up in their own world and not understand how many people actually care about how they’re doing and what they do. I told them what just happened, that doesn’t happen.”
Pietri went on to say that even though he won two conference championships at South Alabama, the President never came to congratulate the players in the locker room.
The Gamecocks focus on defense was apparent. They forced 21 turnovers and held the Owls to 42 percent shooting. The offense, however, stole the show.
“It was really good,” Pietri said. “It was really good offensively. I think we handled the ball well. We shared the ball well. We had 17 assisted baskets on 29 field goals and only nine turnovers. I think we were efficient in how we played offense. We hit the person who needed to have the ball in her hands.”
One of those people was Buckner. She finished with 15 points. All 15 of her points came from beyond the three-point line. She hit five of her nine shots and was only two points shy of her career high.
“I was just happy to knock some down,” Buckner said.
She also finished with an assist and tied for the team lead in steals with Kelly Naughton at two.
Naughton also lead in assists with six.
Junior forward Miranda Cantrell finished with a double-double with a team high 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Kennesaw State may have only had one win entering the game, but anyone trying to convince JSU it was not a quality win would have their work cut out for them.
“This team (KSU) beat Tennessee State,” Pietri pointed out. “Relatively speaking, it makes us more competitive with more people. What we’ve got to be able to do now is handle this success well, build on it and progress with it.”
Added Buckner: “I think it’s just the beginning for us. We’ve been working hard off season and preseason. Honestly, this is just the first of many.”
The Gamecocks will go for win number two Saturday on the road against New Orleans