NASHVILLE – Brittany Wiley's basket with five seconds left, pushed Jacksonville State past Tennessee State in the opening round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, 57-55 on Wednesday at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
Wiley, who scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, drove the lane with time winding down and knocked down the basket. TSU went the distance on the final play with Kim Haynes' jumper rimming out. Wiley's basket capped off a strong second half effort as Jax State, who trailed by 18 points late in the opening half and by 16 at the intermission, 31-15. JSU started the second half on a tear offensively, out-scoring TSU 21-4 to take its first lead of the game at 36-35 at the 11:31 mark on a pair of Brittany Manning free throws.
The win is the first in the OVC Tournament since a 2005 over the same TSU squad and pits the Gamecocks against No. 3 seed Morehead State in a quarterfinal matchup on Thursday at 2 p.m. JSU and MSU played a pair of classic games this season as the Red and White out-lasted the Eagles, 81-80, in overtime on the MSU campus, while Morehead State pulled out a last second win at Pete Mathews Coliseum.
After multiple lead changes and five ties in the final half, TSU looked poised to take the game after a pair of baskets by Haynes' near the three-minute mark to give the Blue and White a four-point advantage. Haynes knocked down one of TSU's 11 3-pointers to give her squad a boost. JSU responded on back-to-back trips down the floor to even the score at 53-53 with 2:08 left in the contest. After a TSU free throw, Wiley gave the Gamecocks' the lead with 1:23 left, but a JSU foul sent TSU's Destiney Gaston to the charity stripe where she knocked down both to set up Wiley's game-winner.
Jax State turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, which in turn sparked the shooting on the other end. After knocking down just five baskets in the first 20 minutes, JSU shot 43 percent from the field (16-of-37) and limited TSU to just 7-of-30 shooting in the final 20 minutes. The comeback marked the largest deficit that JSU has overcome to win a contest. Earlier this season, the Gamecocks erased an 11-point second half deficit at Eastern Kentucky.
The Gamecocks, who were overpowered in the paint by the Lady Tigers in Jacksonville, owned the inside game, scoring 32 of its 57 in the zone. JSU also posted 17 second chance points in the win.
Manning led the Gamecocks in scoring with 17 points off the bench. Danielle Vaughn added 10 points and a career-high five blocks. As a team, JSU was credited with a season-best nine blocks. Senior Danielle Beneby added nine points and six assists in 40 minutes of action.
Jasmin Shuler led all scorers with 21 points, all from behind the 3-point arc. Haynes finished with 13 points.
The Jax State-Morehead State contest will be available on the Gamecock Sports Network.