JACKSONVILLE, Ala. - Jacksonville State turned 19 SIUE turnovers into 26 points Saturday afternoon as the Gamecocks defeated the visiting Cougars 76-65 in Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
"Turnovers. That was the difference," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "The turnovers led to fast breaks and easy baskets."
Jacksonville State, now 9-14 overall and 4-6 in the OVC, scored 25 fast break-points.
The Gamecocks built their lead to as many as 10 points, at 30-20, and had a nine-point lead three times in the half, but led by only four at the break (38-34).
The Cougars, now 5-13 overall and 3-6 in the OVC, scored first in the second half to cut the JSU lead to 38-36. The Gamecocks then took over, scoring 15 of the game's next 19 points to lead 53-42 with 13:37 to play in the game. The Gamecocks maintained the double-digit advantage for a good portion of the half, pushing the lead to 14 points at 64-50 with 8:17 left.
SIUE then went on a run of its own. The Cougars went on a 15-6 spree that made it a five-point game (70-65) with 2:04 to play, but the Cougars were unable to get any closer.
SIUE turned the ball over three times in the final 1:29 to help vault the Gamecocks to their third straight win. JSU also had a 5-2 edge on the boards in that same time span.
"It was a five-point game and we gave up some big rebounds and turned the ball over," Forrester said. "It comes down to making tough plays down the stretch and we didn't."
The Cougars outrebounded Jacksonville State for the game 35-31. After hitting 13 of 25 shots (52 percent) in the first half, SIUE shot just 37.5 percent (9-24) during the second half, to shoot 44.9 percent (22-49) for the game.
Jerome Jones led four Cougars in double figures with a game-high 18 points. He was 8 of 13 from the field. Corey Wickware scored 14 points. Mark Yelovich scored 10 point for SIUE to move into a tie for 10th on the school's all-time scoring list. Yelovich now has 1,045 career points, which is tied with Nathan Kreke who played 102 games for SIUE from 1994-98. Derian Shaffer scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double.
"(Derian) is playing with great confidence right now," Forrester said. "He's doing good things on both ends of the floor. He's kind of been our energy guy out there."
SIUE remains on the road to play at Tennessee Tech Monday night. Tipoff against the Golden Eagles is slated for 7 p.m. SIUE defeated Tennessee Tech 83-68 in Edwardsville Dec. 29.
"This is another team we've played before," Forrester said. "It's going to be more mental than physical preparation. We know how hard it will be trying to get the win on the road."