COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — The Jacksonville State women's basketball team etched its name into the record books Saturday night with a 73-59 road win at Tennessee Tech in the season finale, setting a Division I school record with its 12th conference win of the year.
Senior Tyler Phelion poured in a season-best 20 points, while freshman Taylor Hawks added 15 as the Gamecocks (18-11, 12-6 Ohio Valley Conference) had their highest scoring performance in 13 games. Tech fell to 7-22 in its final game, and will not make the league's tournament with a 4-14 OVC record.
JSU's 12th league win surpassed the 2004 club that posted 11 conference wins in Jax State's first year in the OVC. Overall, JSU notched its 18th victory, which is just one shy of the school's single-season mark.
Picked to finish seventh and 10th in the preseason conference polls by head coaches and media, respectively, the Gamecocks locked up the No. 4 seed in next week's OVC tournament in Evansville, Ind., where they will have a chance at win No. 19 against the fifth-seeded Morehead State Eagles in the opening round.
JSU will play MSU at the Ford Center in Evansville at 1 p.m. in a contest carried on both the OVC Digital Network and ESPN3. It will be JSU's first trip to postseason play in three years.
On Saturday, JSU didn't take any chances with a team that beat the Gamecocks in Jacksonville earlier this month. Jax State jumped out to a 7-0 advantage, forcing an early Tech timeout. JSU stayed hot shooting 50 percent in the opening period to lead 21-13 after one quarter. The Golden Eagles closed the gap to 26-23 with just over four minutes to play before the half, but consecutive treys from Hawks and Gretchen Morrison capped a 13-2 run for JSU to end the half with a 39-25 advantage.
The lead grew to as many as 20 for JSU in the third quarter, but TTU slowly chipped away at the deficit heading into the fourth. The lead was down to 12 at 52-40 to begin the final period. With 6:18 remaining, Tech made it a seven-point contest, but four straight points from Morgan Towells and a jumper by Kiana Johnson gave a JSU a quick 6-0 run to break the momentum.
It became a game of free throws down the stretch with JSU hitting 19-of-24 on the day to secure the win. All 13 Gamecocks saw the floor by the third quarter, with eight reaching the scoring column.