Monday, November 3, 2008

WBB: Gamecocks swamp undermanned Miles

The JSU women’s basketball team took the floor against outside competition for the first time Monday in an exhibition against Miles and played like it meant something. The Gamecocks swamped their Division II visitors 102-62.

Preseason All-OVC pick Jolie Efezokhae led five JSU scorers in double figures with 33 points. She also had 13 rebounds. Zenobia Pitts had 16 points.

At one point in the game, the Gamecocks could have surrendered all of Efezokhae's points and still led the game by two.

After a tight opening stretch, the Gamecocks pulled away with a 19-4 run that took them from 13-12 down to 31-17 ahead.

In their defense, the Bears were playing shorthanded. They have seven players who couldn't play for reasons that weren't immediately disclosed, three they discovered 30 minutes before the game.

The Gamecocks had three players on the sideline with injuries, but opened the game with a lineup of veterans.

Coach Becky Geyer disclosed earlier in the day her starting lineup -- sophomores Danielle Beneby, Pitts, Charlease Williams and Paris Hollingsworth and junior Efezokhae. It’s the group Geyer anticipates starting in the Nov. 14 season opener against Samford.

“This is kind of the five we’re planning on playing as of right now unless somebody comes in and takes a position away from somebody,” Geyer said.

Erin McMichael (strained knee), Brittany Wiley (strained knee), Chase Ogden (nose surgery) all missed the exhibition with injuries. Geyer said McMichael is close to returning, but Wiley’s injury was a repeat injury and she’s likely to be out another 10 days. Ogden will be out until Nov. 10.

Ann Butehorn was among the 10 Gamecocks available to play. The red shirt freshman missed all of last season with circulation problems in her leg, but had offseason surgery to correct the problem and will play this season with theraputic hose.

This is Geyer’s third season with the Gamecocks. Her previous JSU teams have won 7 and 11, and was picked fifth in the OVC preseason poll. With a veteran group, the Gamecocks should be expected to improve again, but Geyer is smart enough not to declare a specific number of victories this year.

“I think we’re going to be that team that people hate to play because you never know for sure,“ she said. “You come and we’re playing well, we’re going to beat you. Hopefully, we’re more consistent than we were a year ago, with the amount of playing experience. It’s amazing, in practice you can really see our kids have come around. We really hope for great things and being able to compete with everybody we play this year.”

The schedule is impressive, with Big East Georgetown coming to Pete Mathews Coliseum Nov. 16 and a Dec. 29 date at N.C. State. Next year’s schedule will also open some eyes, as they make the return to Georgetown (coupled with a game at Navy) and play Baylor on the trip to the UT-San Antonio’s tournament.

The Gamecocks play a closed superscrimmage with Division III Oglethorpe Saturday.

NOTE: The Gamecocks had a special guest on their bench Monday night. Megan Brittain served as the team’s honorary coach and Geyer was giving thought to letting the 12-year-old Jacksonville girl call a play in the huddle.

Megan just completed a schedule of chemotherapy that was expected to box out her cancer, only to learn it had relocated to another area of her spine.

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