Sharp-shooting Gamecocks earn OVC opening win over Tech by 16

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Jacksonville State found the range and the rebounds, and Tennessee Tech could never find a rhythm as the visiting Gamecocks snared an 82-66 victory Saturday night in Eblen center in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both squads.

When JSU (6-1/1-0 OVC) wasn't hitting from 3-point range -- which wasn't all that often -- the Gamecocks were scoring from the free throw line, taking advantage of a huge advantage in charity trips. Jacksonville State, which got into the two-shot bonus early in both halves, shot 31 free throws while Tech went to the line for 17 tries. JSU shot 50 percent (29-for-58) for the game, including a sizzling 6-for-11 for 54.5 percent from long distance.

Four players reached double figures for JSU, led by Stephen Hall with 19, posting a double-double with 10 rebounds to help the Gamecocks to a 38-33 advantage on the glass. Jonathan Toles added 17, Nick Murphy 14 and Jeremy Bynum 13.

Alex Davis topped Tech (5-2/0-1 OVC) with 13 points, while Zach Bailey added 10. DJ Lindsay had eight points and a team-best six rebounds.

The first half was tight from wire-to-wire, with the exception of a couple of brief eight-point leads by the Gamecocks. After their 19-11 advantage at the 12:01 mark, Tech battled back to eventually to a 28-26 lead. Tied seven times in the opening 20 minutes, Jax State went to the break with a 35-33 edge after a jumper by Bynum with two seconds left.

Tech had its final lead of the night at 39-37 when Bailey hit a layup at the 17:55 mark, but that vanished quickly. Two ties later, and Toles made a layup to nudge the Gamecocks on top to stay. JSU used an 11-3 run to take a nine-point lead and took it to double figures midway through the period when Murphy canned a jumper to make it 61-51.

The final 16-point margin was the largest lead of the game.

The Golden Eagles are out of action for finals next week, then return to the Eblen Center court on Sunday, Dec. 14, to host Union College at 2 p.m.