But cold shooting wasn’t the Gamecocks’ only problem in a 72-60 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday.
In a game that carried big implications in the race for the last few spots into the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, the Gamecocks (10-16, 4-7 OVC) not only shot poorly, but were dominated inside and several times lost track of the shot clock.
“We did nothing to try to create the right type of flow in a game of this nature,” JSU coach James Green said. “You shoot 20 percent, part of it is them defending you, part of it is shot selection, and part of it may just have been one of those days, but that’s why you have to defend and rebound.
“We weren’t really sharp and aware. It was the most disappointing effort for where we are at this particular point in the year. I don’t really remember being in a situation where a game had the impact that it had … and not play with that passion.”
The Gamecocks shot 29.6 percent for the game, but only got there with a 6-for-8 stretch late in the game. For much of the second half they were shooting less than 20 percent and for a time had more points from the foul line than they did from the floor.
Their troubles started early. They made only 5 of 25 from the floor in the first half -- 1 for 10 from 3-point range. D.J. Felder had four of their baskets and Avery Moore had the only 3-pointer. They had only one basket in the final eight minutes of the half, and that was Felder’s jumper with 5:32 left.
Felder finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Darion Rackley led the Gamecocks with 16 points. Brian Williams had 14 and Moore had 10.
Tech didn’t have any trouble. The Golden Eagles (12-13, 5-5) shot a fraction over 50 percent for the game and outscored the Gamecocks 44-24 in the lane. They clobbered JSU on the boards, 41-30.
“We were just off shooting,” Williams said. “I don’t think the shooting was what got us down. We weren’t rebounding or defending. It was multiple stuff -- one thing after the other. It was a chain reaction.”
Despite the shooting woes, the Gamecocks were only down two with 12:52 to play. But from there, they made only one basket over the next seven and a half minutes and Tech went on a 24-7 run to take control.
It was a particularly damaging loss since the Gamecocks now have to go on the road to salvage a split in the season series and even that might not help them. Tech has a win over East Division leading Belmont.
Right now the Gamecocks have the ninth-best record in the OVC, a half-game out of the final spot for the tournament.
While the chance still exists for the Gamecocks to make the field, Green said they would be “skipping quite a few steps” if they started talking about the conference tournament when they can’t focus on a game.
“We’re still in contention, but we have to play better,” Williams said. “We’ve got an opportunity to go back up there and tie it up. That’s what we have to do, but we can’t come with this same effort we did today when we go there.
“We know we messed up, but we can’t harp on it. This is a setback, but we’ve got to bounce back because we’ve got more games to come that we can still make it.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.