Kelly Naughton‘s running jumper rimmed out at the buzzer as Jacksonville State dropped a hard fought 65-63 decision to Georgia State on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the Georgia State Invitational.
It was a frenzy in the final few minutes of the contest in which the Panthers overcame a deficit in the final minute and half to post their second win of the season. The two-point loss drops the Gamecocks to 2-5 on the season and will play in the consolation contest of the GSU-hosted event on Sunday at 11:30 CT. The contest will be available on the Gamecock Sports Network.
With just 2:05 left in the game, Alisha Andrews’ basket knotted the game for the tenth time, but JSU took its last lead of the game at 58-56 after a Peyton Hisel layup with 1:40 left in the game. GSU’s Hayley Gerrin, who scored 12 of her game-high in the second half, knocked down a layup with 1:23 left to give GSU a 59-58 advantage. On GSU’s next trip down the floor, Gerrin converted on a three-point play to extend the lead to 62-58 with 35 seconds left. Candace Morton drained a second trey of the game to get Jax State within a point at 62-61. The Panthers hit free throws down the stretch with two important free throws by Andrews with 13 seconds remaining. On JSU’s next trip down the floor, Morton was fouled from beyond the arc, but only knocked down two of the three at the line with seven seconds left.
After trailing 29-24 at the halftime break, the Gamecocks erased that deficit with a 13-3 scoring run that was fueled by Destany McLin and Hisel. Both sophomores reached double figures in the scoring column thanks to 16 points combined from the pair. Hisel posted a career-high 13 points on 6-of-8 from the field in 16 minutes of floor action. For the second time in just her three games this season, McLin registered double figures off the bench with 10 points. Junior Miranda Cantrell finished with seven points and seven boards.
JSU hit 16-of-31 from the field in the second half, while GSU was 12-of-30 in the final 20 minutes.
In a first half that felt like the temperatures outside the GSU Arena, both teams struggled knocking down shots as JSU managed to get in double figures by the midway point of the half after a Candace Morton three-point basket to give the Gamecocks a four-point, 12-8 lead. The trey sparked a 9-0 scoring run that saw Jax State build its largest lead of the half at 16-9 after a McLin layup with 7:16 left in the opening half.
The scoring picked up in the final 5:30 of half after the fourth of seven ties and six lead changes in the opening half. GSU out-scored Jax State 7-2 over the final 2:15 of the half and took its largest lead of the half at 29-24 in to the intermission. Both teams combined for 15-of-64 (23 percent). The Gamecocks managed to hit 6-of-31 from the field, while the Panthers were 9-of-33 from the field in the half.
Morton scored all but ten of JSU’s 24 first-half points, including 9-of-11 from the free throw line. It marks the fifth time this season that the Lexington, Ky.-guard has cracked the double figure mark in the scoring column by halftime. Morton finished with her third 21-point game of the season. She also pulled down eight of her 12 rebounds in the first half and knocked down 11-of-14 from the charity stripe.