CHARLESTON, Ill. — The Jacksonville State women's basketball team overcame just its third halftime deficit of the season to snap a seven-game road losing skid at Eastern Illinois, beating the Panthers 59-50 on Thursday.
JSU's last win inside Lantz Arena came exactly 11 years ago in a double-overtime 103-98 shootout over the Panthers. With the win, the Gamecocks improved to 8-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, which matches the program’s best start in the league. It also gave head coach Rick Pietri his 70th victory at JSU, just the third women’s coach in school history to hit that milestone.
Senior Tyler Phelion and junior Rayven Pearson led all scorers with 13 points apiece, while freshman Taylor Hawks pitched in 11. Pearson grabbed 10 boards in a double-double effort, followed by Tasha Magruder with nine. Phelion matched a season best with four blocks for JSU.
JSU jumped out to a 16-2 lead to open the game, and led for more than 18 minute of the first half, but the Gamecocks found themselves down by three at halftime after the Panthers finished the second quarter on an 11-0 run over the final three minutes.
JSU bounced back quickly in the third. Pearson hit back-to-back free throws, before Hawks' 3-pointer from the corner gave the Gamecocks the lead again at 30-28. JSU continued to hold the lead as it led for nearly 36 minutes total for the night, but EIU stayed closed heading into the fourth down just three at 38-35.
In the fourth, JSU turned up the heat with a 10-0 run to grab a 13-point advantage through the early part of the period, and added a stingy defense that didn't allow a fourth-quarter field goal until the 3:48 mark.
A 3-pointer by EIU's Karle Pace cut the deficit to eight with 1:32 remaining, but it was too little too late. Pace finished as the lone Panther in double figures with 12 points.
For a team that struggles at the line, JSU shot 63.6 percent from the stripe on Thursday, and secured its second-half rally with a 12-of-16 mark (75 percent) after halftime.
The Gamecocks head down the road to SIU Edwardsville to meet the Cougars on Saturday night. SIUE sits second in the OVC with a 9-2 league mark, one game ahead of JSU. Saturday's contest will be the only regular-season meeting between the two schools this year.