Gamecocks close out Bahamas stay with win over Drexel

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Jacksonville State head coach Ray Harper would have a tough time finding a better destination for his 100th win at the helm of the Gamecocks, but the sixth-year coach did just that as JSU came from behind in the second half to top Drexel, 72-64.
 
Playing on the main court at the Baha Mar Resort for the first and only time after a water leak moved their Monday matchup to the practice facility, JSU (2-3) earned its first win of the season away from Pete Mathews Coliseum in the first-ever meeting with the Drexel Dragons who fall to 3-3.
 
The change in scenery didn’t slow down junior Demaree King, who poured in a season-best 23 points on Monday. On Wednesday, the Raleigh, N.C., native, dropped another 16 to match senior Jalen Gibbs who caught fire from behind the arc in the second-half. The Gamecock pair were joined by seniors Darian Adams (14) and Brandon Huffman (10) in double figures.
 
It started with a quick 7-0 lead for the Dragons before senior Kayne Henry put JSU on the board. Henry finished with seven points and a team-high six rebounds. Huffman was key in JSU’s response after a sluggish start. Before the outside shot got going, Huffman went to work down low with back-to-back buckets to draw within one. Shortly after,  another score put Jax State ahead, 12-11.
 
King added a late layup on the inside in the final minute of the first half to go along with his first two treys, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Dragon offense that shot 52-percent in the opening 20 minutes to lead 32-29 at the intermission. It marked the most points JSU had allowed in a first half this season.
 
JSU flipped the script from the first half, opening on their own 8-0 run to force Drexel to use an early timeout. As the Dragons fought back, Maros Zeliznak picked up on the inside where Huffman left off with five of JSU’s seven points in a span that saw JSU cling to a narrow lead closing in on 10 minutes to play.
 
With a 44-41 lead, Gibbs drained a deep three from the top of the key and it flipped a switch in the Gamecock newcomer who went 3-fo-3 from long range in just over five minutes to make it 58-53. When Drexel narrowly closed the gap back to two, King stepped up with consecutive triples on back-to-back possessions to hand JSU a six-point cushion with three minutes remaining.
 
Still in range with under a minute to play, King’s final layup made It a commanding seven-point margin, while Adams and Gibbs converted late free throws to secure the 72-64 victory.
 
After a strong second-half, JSU finished the day shooting 50-percent on 25-of-50 from the floor. The Gamecocks outscored Drexel 34-24 in the paint, while mostly came in the first 30 minutes before King and Gibbs surged late.   
 

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