Basketball teaser

RICHMOND, Ky. — The Jacksonville State women's basketball team came up on the short end of a 48-44 defensive struggle Saturday at Eastern Kentucky, falling for the first time in four games.

JSU (12-7, 6-2 Ohio Valley Conference) shot just 33 percent and hit only three 3-pointers in the Gamecocks’ second-lowest offensive output of the season. The Colonels (7-10, 4-4 OVC) were held in check through the first half, scoring just 13 points in the opening 20 minutes. However, EKU shot 54 percent (14-of-16) in the second half to lead by as many as eight in the fourth quarter, before holding on to the narrow victory.

Freshman Taylor Hawks led JSU with 12 points, scoring six in each half, and adding two assists. Senior Tyler Phelion posted 10 points to go along with five rebounds and a team-best three steals. At the post, junior Rayven Pearson and senior Tasha Magruder were each limited to a single basket, while outside scoring threat Gretchen Morrison was held scoreless for the first time this year.

Points were difficult to come by the entire game, and proved to be the case in the opening period as the Gamecocks led 10-4 after the first. The four points marked the lowest total the Gamecocks had held any opponent in the opening period. EKU remained in single digits with nine points in the second, while JSU went to the half up 16-12 thanks to six first-half points from Hawks and Kiana Johnson.

Out of the break, EKU used a 12-4 run through the first part of the third quarter to grab a 25-20 advantage. Later, JSU trailed 28-21, when redshirt-junior Leah Strain reeled off seven of her eight total points in a row to keep Jax State within four at 32-28 heading to the final period.

In the fourth, the Gamecocks were within three with 7:04 to play, before a four-minute scoring drought gave the Colonels their largest lead of the night at 41-33 with just over three minutes on the clock. The drought was ended by a free throw from Strain. Her second attempt was missed and hauled in by Chloe Long who kicked out to Hawks for a big 3 to make it a four-point contest late.

A layup by Phelion cut the deficit to two with 2:12 to go. The Colonels would score on the ensuing possession to pad the margin back to four before Hawks hit another big trey with 1:29 remaining to make it 44-43 in favor of the home team. The Colonels finished 8-of-13 from the free throw line, but hit three of their final four to secure the final 48-44 score with just four ticks left.

After four weekends of conference play, JSU split both of its road tests, and remains a perfect 4-0 in the league at home, where it will return Thursday to host UT Martin.