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Lady Colonels Hope to End Two-Game Skid with Return to McBrayer Arena

RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s women’s basketball team will try to end a two-game losing skid when the Lady Colonels host Jacksonville State University on Thursday at McBrayer Arena on the EKU campus. Eastern (8-6, 3-4 OVC) has dropped back-to-back road games but the Lady Colonels are 3-1 this season at McBrayer Arena. The Gamecocks (7-10, 4-4 OVC) snapped a two-game losing streak of their own on Saturday and will be looking for their first winning streak since early December.

The game is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Kentucky leads the all-time series, 9-2, and has never lost to Jacksonville State in five games played in Richmond.

Against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Niki Avery knocked down a leaning three-pointer as time ran out in regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Lady Colonels couldn’t hold on for the win, falling 86-81. It was the second time this season the two teams played overtime, the Panthers won both contests. Crystal Jones led the Lady Colonels with 22 points.

The game remained close for much of the second half. Neither team led by more than three points until Rachel Galligan converted a pair of free throw attempts with 3:22 left in the game to put the Panthers in front by five, 68-63.

A pair of free throws by Megan Edwards gave EIU a six point lead with 36 seconds left in regulation, leaving the Lady Colonels in the position of having to hit three-pointers and foul the Panthers, hoping for a miss at the free throw line.

Ashley Cazee knocked down a three-pointer at the other end to cut the lead in half, but after the immediate foul, Eastern Illinois converted both free throws to move back in front by five. Out of an EIU time out, Cazee connected on another three-pointer to draw within two with 16 seconds remaining.

EKU fouled immediately again, sending the Panthers to the charity stripe. At that point Eastern Illinois had made 18 of 18 free throws in the second half and 32-of-34 for the game. The Lady Colonels got what they needed. EIU missed the first shot and made the second leaving Eastern Kentucky three points from a tie.

Avery brought the ball up the court and moved it around the perimeter. The senior guard got the ball back on the right wing with time running out and two defenders on her. Avery split the defenders and nailed the leaning jumper as the horn sounded to send the game to overtime.

Eastern Illinois scored the first five points of overtime and kept the Lady Colonels from scoring for the first 3:17 of the extra period.

Jones made 8 of 14 shots from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Shavonne Jones added 14 points and seven rebounds. Cazee finished with 13. Avery and LaTanya Stokes chipped in with 11 and 10 points respectively.

In her last four games, Crystal Jones is averaging 20.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.5 steals. The senior guard has made 57.9 percent of her shots from the field, including 57.1 percent from beyond the arc, during that four-game span.

Through 14 games of the 2007-08 season, the Lady Colonels are ranked among the nation’s leaders in several team and individual categories. As a team, EKU ranks 25th in the nation in steals per game (11.7), 30th in the nation in scoring (73.9 ppg), 21st in three-point field goals per game (7.1) and 40th in free throw percentage (.739).

Individually, Jones has the fourth highest free throw percentage (.932) in the nation. The senior has made 41 of 44 attempts from the charity stripe this season. Avery ranks seventh in three-point field goals per game (3.1) and 31st in three point field goal percentage (.423).

The Gamecocks had lost six of their last seven games before picking up a win at home on Saturday against Tennessee State. JSU opened conference play in December with a pair of wins over Samford and Tennessee-Martin. The team also has a road win over Austin Peay.

Freshman Cierra Duhart led Jacksonville State with 19 points and eight rebounds in a 77-70 win over Tennessee State. Danielle Beneby and Cassi Stuart added 16 and 10 points respectively.

Forward Jolie Efezokhae, a sophomore, is the team’s leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, but was held to eight points against TSU. Efezokhae also ranks second on the team with an average of 6.4 rebounds per game.

Duhart averages 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She is shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.

JSU starts two freshmen and two sophomores. Duhart, a forward, and Beneby, a guard, are the freshmen starters. Efezokhae and guard Kelsey Johnikin are the sophomore starters.

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