Gamecock Women Win Third Revenge Game

Freshman guard Briana Benson

Freshman guard Briana Benson

JACKSONVILLE– Payback is not something head coach Rick Pietri discusses with Jacksonville State’s women’s basketball team.

Even so, the Gamecocks are making the most of their rematches. They soundly defeated Eastern Kentucky 79-62 Saturday and avenged their 68-61 loss to the colonels in their first meeting.

The win marked the third time JSU defeated an Ohio Valley Conference opponent who defeated them in the prior meeting.

“We’re not talking about it specifically,” Pietri said. “What we’re talking about is, obviously these people have beaten us before. We know we’ve got a challenge in front of us. So, we have to raise the level of our play. To this point, that’s what we’ve done.

The Gamecocks (11-15, 7-6 in the OVC) never trailed in this meeting. They held a 33-24 lead after the first half thanks to guard Briana Benson. After a cold start, the freshman sharpshooter drained three of 3-pointers in the first half. She finished with a career-high 24 points and sank five 3-pointers.

“I started out missing my shots,” Benson said. “The coaches kept saying shoot–keep shooting until they fall. So, I had to mold that in my head. Just keep shooting.”

JSU seemed to get comfortable with its 15-point lead with just over 11 minutes remaining– a little too comfortable for Pietri’s liking. The Lady Colonels (14-8, 7-4 in the OVC) cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 56-48 with just over seven minutes remaining. Pietri called a timeout.

“What I basically told them,” Pietri said, “it was obvious at that juncture Eastern Kentucky desperately wanted it more than we did. I told them you’ve got to meet that and surpass that. Fortunately our kids did turn the volume up after that and we were able to make enough plays on both ends of the floor to get the win.”

The Gamecocks responded by outscoring EKU 23-14 from that point.

Destany McLin finished one rebond short of a double-double she managed 11 points and nine rebounds. Miranda Cantrell managed 13 and Candace Morton added 15. Cantrell and Morton each pulled down seven rebounds. Destiny James led with six assists.

JSU is still looking to clinch a birth into the OVC Tournament. The Gamecocks are only a half game out of fourth place which would give them a first-round bye. But, they remain in just sixth place. Two of their final three games are against teams who they lost to earlier this season.

But, with the way the Gamecocks have performed in revenge games this season, defeating Morehead and Belmont is not out of the question.

“Clearly, we have three games left to play.” Pietri said. “The other two home games are against teams that have beaten us.”

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