No. 4 Jacksonville State wins OVC Tournament

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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If there is one thing that has been proved in the last two years of the men’s basketball Ohio Valley Conference Tournament it is that seeding for the tournament does not matter, and pre season rankings are even more irrelevant.

Belmont was picked to win it all in the beginning of the year. The Bruins took home regular season champion honors, but that did not help them in the OVC Tournament as they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Jacksonville State: This year’s winner.

And to Jacksonville State’s credit, it was not supposed to even be in the OVC Tournament, let alone beat Belmont. Whether it is bad luck or running out of gas, Belmont just cannot figure out how to finish off the season as No. 1. Last year the Bruins lost to No. 8 Austin Peay.

With the Tournament title, Austin Peay received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which resulted in a loss to Kansas in the first round. The same goes for Jacksonville State this year. Who it will play has not been determined.

The Gamecocks took down No. 2 Tennessee-Martin 66-55 to cap off their OVC Championship run and to win their first ever OVC Title.

Using a powerful first half, the Gamecocks were able to build a lead large enough to hold off the Skyhawks despite a strong second half showing from Tennessee-Martin.

Jacksonville State had a 36-23 lead at the end of the first half and kept it going in the second. Tennessee-Martin’s 23-point opening half put them in a deep hole it could not get out of.

Neither bench made any huge impact, making the little things and the cliché “get of to a fast start” ideology so important.

Also, Murray State was supposed to finish atop the West Division, but it barley snuck in with an 8-8 record as the No. 8 seed. But the Racers proved why seeding did not matter and recorded two upset wins over No. 6 Tennessee Tech and No. 3 Morehead State.

For Eastern, a trip to the tournament was predicted but it just was not the year for the Panthers and they missed out.

For the championship game, Tennessee-Martin hung with Jacksonville State but a few extra 3-pointers made the difference.

The Skyhawks outrebounded the Gamecocks 35-31, and had their top scorers out score the Jacksonville State top scores. Jacolby Mobley scored 18 points to lead all players.

Neither team did a good job holding onto the ball. Jacksonville State turned it over 14 times and the Skyhawks coughed it up 15 times.

Jacksonville State was not very successful from beyond the arc, making 8 of 25 attempts. But with so many tries, some were bound to go in. Erik Durham and Malcom Drumwright each made three 3-pointers.

Tennessee-Martin attempted 15 3-point shots, but only connected on three of them.

END OF THE YEAR AWARDS:

The Panthers were snubbed and did not have any player receive an All-OVC award. Eastern was not represented in First-Team All-OVC, second team, or All-Newcomer team.

It’s true that Eastern did not have the most success finding the win column this season, but the talent the transfers in Muusa Dama, Montell Goodwin and Ray Crossland brought was significant.

Senior Evan Bradds of Belmont won Player of the Year for the second year in a row. He helped lead Belmont to its second straight regular season OVC Championship. Tennessee State senior Tahjere McCall repeated as Defensive Player of the Year.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]