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Commodores coast by East Mississippi, improve to 6-0

Gulf Coast men’s basketball coach Phil Gaffney knew his team would have a letdown following Thursday night’s big win over No. 3 Indian Hills in Niceville.

Following such an emotional triumph with another contest against a quality East Mississippi team the following night was enough to cause serious concern for Gaffney.

His worries were warranted - at least for one half.

The Commodores overcame a sluggish opening 20 minutes to pull away from East Mississippi for a 77-59 victory.

“We were just horrific (in the first half),” Gaffney said. “We had 14 first-half turnovers. There’s always that hangover. I tried to explain it to them. You go beat a team with all those high major D-I guys and the third-ranked team in the country, you’re going to have a hangover the next day. It always happens. I’ve been doing this a long time and it always happens after a big win.

“But the second half we came out and played well and wore them down over the last six or seven minutes. I’m real happy with that.”

Gulf Coast outscored East Mississippi 44-29 in the second half. KK Godwin led the Commodores with 16 points on 4 of 8 from the field and 3 of 4 from the 3-point line.

Jacolbey Owens added 15 points and Cam Holden added 11 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Travon Mayo and Grant Howard scored eight points each.

Donte Powers led East Mississippi with 14 points, while Jakorie Smith and Danny Washington had 11 points each. KJ Riley scored 10 points.

With the win, Gulf Coast moved to 6-0 on the season and almost certainly will move high into next week’s NJCAA top 25 rankings.

Wherever the Commodores end up ranked next week, Gaffney said his team has proven that it’s capable of playing with anyone in the country.

“What we’ve found out is we can definitely contend for a Region 8 state title in Florida and get to (the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.),” he said. “That’s our goal. I know we haven’t been to Hutch since 1972. Our guys see the banners and want to get there and represent the school.

“There’s no question we can get there. Playing the way we did this weekend showed us that. Whether we will keep working and get there is another story, but we want to be one of the 24 teams to get there. Once you get out there it’ s a crapshoot and anybody can win it. That’s college basketball. That’s why you want to get there.”

Gulf Coast will next play Tuesday at home against Coastal Alabama North.

 

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