Awards: Best Moment
The best moments sometimes happen in seconds, days or even weeks. For Gamecock Illustrated, it was all three.This year’s Best Moment Award goes to Women’s Basketball for making Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays, Football for its run in the FCS Playoffs and Baseball for its run in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Women’s Athletics: Women’s Basketball Makes Sportscenter Top 10
Six seconds. That’s how long it took women’s basketball to win Gamecock Illustrated’s Best Moment.
Sure, the game is played over 40 minutes. But in the last six seconds, freshman guard Briana Benson got an offensive rebound and hit a game-winning lay-up as time expired to eliminate Tennessee Tech from the OVC Tournament. Unfortunately, it was the last win of the season for the Gamecocks as they bowed out to Belmont in the semifinals.
But before their elimination, they caught the eye of ESPN who carried the game on ESPN 3. Gamecock Illustrated would be remiss if it didn’t thank all the fans who joined in on social media to help make this happen. Because of you and the play of the Gamecocks, our Best Moment was shared across the nation.
Football’s case for Best Moment almost didn’t happen.
The Gamecocks were one of the last four teams voted into the FCS Playoffs. It was a pleasant surprise considering the OVC hadn’t won a playoff game in more than a decade and JSU hadn’t since it won the 1992 Division II Championship.
Even so, the voters opted for three OVC teams and paired the Gamecocks with former OVC rival Samford in the first round. The game kicked off after the Iron Bowl meaning it was the only Division I football game being played in the state.
JSU completely dominated Samford 55-14. It moved on to McNeese State in the second round and soundly defeated the Cowboys 31-10. The Gamecocks moved on tho the quarterfinals against Eastern Washington and held their own until they lost their battle with the injury bug. The Eagles ended JSU’s season with a 35-24 loss.
Despite coming up three games short of a national championship, JSU’s run in the playoffs gave the Gamecocks much needed exposure on the national level. The team that was one of the final four selected ended up being one of the final eight eliminated. There’s a renewed since of hope and respect for the football team not experienced since teams of the early 1990s.
What football did in the postseason was special, but not special enough to overshadow what baseball did in the OVC Tournament.
The Gamecocks won the tournament championship after winning six-straight elimination games in only four days. It was the fifth championship for them since beginning OVC play in 2004.
JSU entered as the No. 3 seed and fell into the losers’ bracket after a 2-1 loss to Eastern Illinois. It was two outs away from elimination in the next game against SIU Edwardsville before rallying for 3 runs and winning 7-5. The Gamecock bats came alive after in their rematch with EIU. They cruised through EIU, Morehead State, Southeast Missouiri, and Tennessee Tech by outscoring them 30-14.
As impressive as their hitting was, their pitching stole the show. The OVC named the entire Gamecock pitching staff it’s tournament most valuable players. It was the first time a No. 3 seed won the tournament since the current format began in 2005 and the first time a team eliminated the other five teams.
The championship gave them an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. They played in the Oxford, Miss. regional and lost to Ole Miss and Georgia Tech. Even so, their unlikely run in the OVC tournament scratched the itch for a championship that had not been satisfied since 2010.