Gamecock Women End Losing Streak At Six

Junior guard Gia Banks

Junior guard Gia Banks

Jacksonville State head coach Rick Pietri said his Gamecocks came together after losing their previous game to Mercer.

It showed in their 73-63 victory over South Carolina State.

“In the 48 hours between our prior game and tonight,” Pietri said, “we really got refocused on some of the important things that we need to pay attention to–some of it not even basketball related. Some of it just spiritual and emotional. Just being more together in how we do things.”

The Gamecocks’ (3-9) entire junior class led the team in scoring with 11 points each. Candace Morton, Miranda Cantrell and Bria’unna Buckner are not strangers to lighting up the scoreboard. But, Gia Banks entered the game averaging just 3.9 points per game and Buckner missed all seven of her shots against Mercer.

Banks and Buckner hit all 8 of their eight 3-pointers for the game in the first half to help the Gamecocks pull away from the Lady Bulldogs (1-7).

“I’m getting really comfortable lately,” Banks said. “I’ve been practicing, putting up threes in practice. It’s coming around.”

Junior Guard Bria'unna Buckner

Junior Guard Bria’unna Buckner

Added Buckner: “I got in the gym. Our coaches, they come in all the time and help us shoot. I got in here a little bit extra with two of our assistant coaches, our guard coaches, and got some shots up.”

“It felt really good to finally knock some down. I definitely prayed before this game. God came through for me on this.”

The Gamecocks hit seven 3-pointers in all. Freshman guard Briana Benson added two more.

The win ended the Gamecocks’ 6-game losing-streak, tied Pietri’s longest career losing streak and finished off the homestand on a high note.

Sophomore guard Destiny James led the Gamecocks with 6 of their season high 19 assists.

JSU out rebounded the Lady Bulldogs 37-31.

“Really, on paper, the only bad thing we did was shoot free throws,” Pietri said. “That’s the only bad thing we did.”

The Gamecocks only made 16 of their 28 free throw attempts. But, they made just enough to hold the hard charging Lady Bulldogs at bay. Banks said losing another game in the final minute was on their minds.

“Basically, this is what we’ve got to do,” she said. “Regardless of mistakes. If we come together as a team, we’re going to win.”

Thursday’s game was the Gamecocks’ last game before taking a break for Christmas. Pietri said He’s been on the winning and losing end of the final game before the break. He said winning it makes returning “a whole lot easier.”

“There’s an air of positivity the minute you walk in the gym for that first practice,” he said. “It’s conference time. There’s no better time to have an air of positivity heading into the gym when you’re preparing for that first conference game.”

Added Banks: “It’s really important. It probably would put us all in a bad mood over the whole break. It’s just a good feeling to go home and then come back and keep working towards another win.”

The Gamecocks try for two wins in a row when they travel to Tennessee Tech to begin Ohio Valley Conference play on December 28th.

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