The Gamecocks (14-7, 6-4 Ohio Valley Conference) had dropped all of the previous 16 matchups with the three-time defending OVC Champion Racers (15-5, 6-2 OVC), and the 17th was in doubt after MSU’s Brandon Garrett converted a driving jumper in the lane to give the Racers a 64-63 lead with nine seconds left.
Williams took the ball the length of the court and was fouled while trying to get his shot off. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native, who is shooting 57.7 percent from the line for the season, knocked down both free throws to give the Gamecocks their historic win.
Williams led the Gamecocks with 17 points and five assists, his sixth straight-game with at least five assists. Seniors Tarvin Gaines and Ronnie Boggs each scored 13 points, with Gaines adding eight rebounds and a season-high two blocks. Senior Mason Leggett added 12 points as well, the first time the Zachary, La., native scored in double-figures since scoring 12 against the Racers last season.
Racer senior Isaiah Canaan, the OVC Preseason Player of the Year, was held to just four points in the first half but came back and scored 16 second-half points to lead the Racers with 20. Senior preseason All-OVC selection Ed Daniel finished with a double-double of 10 points and 17 rebounds, while senior Stacy Wilson added 16 points for MSU.
Williams exploded to score six-straight points and helped JSU close the half with a 30-21 halftime lead. JSU held on to the lead for most of the second half until Canaan led the Racers back, following his miss with a tip in to tie the game at 57-57 with 2:34 left to play. Boggs stepped up and drained a 3-point shot from the left wing as the shot clock expired to give JSU a 60-57 lead.
Wilson would add a 3-point shot for the Racers and Canaan added two free throws to pull the Racers within one at 63-62 with 12 seconds left. Gaines would then take the inbounds pass and lose the ball out-of-bounds while fighting through a double-team, giving the ball back to MSU underneath its basket. The Racers would then take their first lead since the 7:07 mark of the first half when Garrett knocked down a jumper in the lane with :09 seconds remaining to give them a 64-63 lead.
The lead would be shorted lived, as Williams took the in-bounds pass and raced down the right side of the court before being fouled while driving to the basket with 2 seconds left in the game. Williams finished the night 6-of-8 from the free throw line, knocking down his final two attempts to grab the win for the Gamecocks.
JSU will return to action next Saturday with Morehead State coming to town. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Pete Mathews Coliseum following the girls’ game against the Eagles at 2 p.m. Children ages 18 & under get in all JSU home games for free.