The Gamecocks (15-10, 7-7 Ohio Valley Conference) started red hot from the floor to build an early nine-point lead, but the Colonels (21-6, 10-3 OVC) adjusted and rattled off a 15-2 run that gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Tarvin Gaines had another big night for the Gamecocks, scoring a game-high 21 points just two days after putting in 31 at Morehead State.
He was 6-for-7 from the floor to start the game and then cooled off but led three JSU players in double figures. Brian Williams added 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half, to go along with seven assists and three steals.
Nick Cook added 11 points on a 4-for-5 shooting night, while Ronnie Boggs’ eight rebounds led JSU on a night in which the Gamecocks lost the battle on the glass, 32-25.
The Colonels got 21 points from Glenn Cosey, who led a group of five players in double figures on a night in which they shot better than 53 percent from the floor. Tarius Johnson recorded a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead EKU to a win that secured at least a first-round bye in the OVC Tournament in March.
The Gamecocks sprinted out of the gates to start the game, connecting on 12 of their first 15 shots to build a 27-18 lead at the halfway mark of the first half. The Colonels settled in, however and battled back with a 10-run that all came from the shot of Cosey. They also held JSU to just three field goals in its final 14 attempts of the half to build a 39-34 lead at intermission.
The Colonels picked up where they left off to start the second half and raced out to a commanding 65-46 lead with just over nine minutes to play. The Gamecocks went to work to try and get back in it from that point, rattling off a 9-0 run that sparked a 16-3 run that was capped by a Williams trey that cut the deficit to 71-67 with 1:37 left.
Cosey struck again, finding just enough separation to knock down a 3-pointer of his own from the left wing and taking the air out of JSU’s comeback attempt.
The Gamecocks return home for their final game in Pete Mathews Coliseum on Wednesday against Southeast Missouri at 7 p.m. It will be Senior Night for the JSU basketball program, which will honor its four seniors in a pre-game ceremony that will start at about 6:45 p.m. Admission is free to all fans ages 18 and under.