Gamecock Women Get 10th Win

Freshman guard Briana Benson

Freshman guard Briana Benson

JACKSONVILLE– Jacksonville State has taken the Ohio Valley Conference by surprise this season.

After winning just one game a year ago, the Gamecock women won it’s 10th game of the season thanks to a 74-67 win over Tennessee Tech.

It marks the first 10-win season for the Gamecocks since the 2010-11 season.

“Going into this year,” head coach Rick Pietri said, “I wasn’t even contemplating scoreboard watching. I was just worried about, can we win a few games. Now, I have to scoreboard watch because I have to see where we fit in that post season puzzle. Right now, we’re in that mix.”

The Gamecocks (10-15, 6-6 in the OVC) may have surprised the conference this season, but they are not going to surprise anyone at this point in the season. One thing that still caught Tech off guard was freshman guard Briana Benson who managed no points in six minutes in JSU’s first meeting with TTU.

“I think anybody who looked at us previously would have looked at us as a team with 3 scoring threats,” Pietri said. “They would’ve looked at Candace Morton for what she’s done, (Miranda) Cantrell and (Destany) McLin. Now, we have a bonafide fourth scoring threat.”

The usual suspects put up their double figures in the points column. Cantrell finished with 10 and McLin managed 16. Morton led with 23 points. But, Benson was right behind her setting a new career high with 21 points. Fifteen of her points came on her five 3-pointers.

“I was stepping up for my team,” Benson said “letting them believe in me when I’m on the 3-point line. At first they weren’t falling but then I got in the gym and started working on them. You can tell they gained the trust with me shooting at the 3-point line.”

JSU began the game on fire. The Gamecocks led Tech 28-10 with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half. TTU managed to cut JSU’s lead to six at halftime.

Turnovers and poor shooting gave the Golden Eagles (9-15, 6-5 in the OVC) new life in the second half. They finally managed to tie the game at 42 with just over 16 minutes remaining in the game.

JSU wrestled the lead away and held it until TTU tied the game at 59 with just under nine minutes remaining. The Gamecocks managed to take the lead again and never gave it back.

“Tech did what other people did to us early in the year,” Pietri said. “They erased the lead and they got it tied. I think in December, we would’ve found a way to give it up. But, now we’ve developed enough confidence and belief that we can fight through a difficult situation. We’re now able to win it instead of giving it up.”

Saturday’s game was the first game for JSU after a week-long layoff. Now, they have another week before their next game, a rematch against Eastern Kentucky at home Saturday.

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