CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- University of Charleston senior Jessi Cowden nodded her head after committing a foul and before the words came out of the mouth of Coach Adam Collins."Jessi! Jessi!," yelled Collins.Cowden turned and mouthed, "I know," simultaneously with Collins' "That was dumb.""I knew," Cowden said after the game. "He didn't have to tell me."
During the course of her career-high 44-point effort in an 87-70 West Virginia Conference women's basketball victory over Bluefield State (12-10, 10-9) on Thursday night, not everything went perfect.But, it was close.Cowden hit 8-of-10 3-pointers and her point total was a personal best for a career that included two years at Midland College, a junior college in Midland, Texas - and a year at University of Texas of the Permian Basin.She joined Collins when he accepted the head coaching position at UC, replacing Sherry Winn.Her transition to UC has been relatively smooth, she said, with the exception of getting used to the winding roads and the increasing regularity of her motion sickness."West Texas is flat, you can see 100 miles and here you can't do that," she said. "It's throwing me off. I don't know which direction to go."She reached the pinnacle of her college basketball success Thursday by hitting 14-of-19 shots overall and adding seven rebounds for the Golden Eagles (13-10, 10-9), who are preparing to host league leader Glenville State on Monday.Cowden matched her career-high scoring total in the first half with 26 points, which was 68.4 percent of her team's 38 points. She also had 26 against Ohio Valley on Feb. 2.The first of her two misses came with 14:34 left in the first half. She made five consecutive 3s and dropped her percentage from long range to 80 with a miss at the 41-second mark of the game. She's 65-of-155 on 3-pointers this season, putting her at 41.9 percent with more attempts than any player in the top 10 in the league.Following a season at UT-Permian Basin, the psychology major got her credits to transfer and will graduate in December, which made her decision to move from the Lone Star State to the Mountain State.She was certain continuing to play for Collins would pay off one way or another, although she spent her life in West Texas with her junior college being 20 minutes from Permian Basin.
"Originally I didn't want to," said Cowden, who started 25 of 26 games for the Falcons and averaged nine points. "He's a great guy. Off the court, he'd do anything for you. I felt loyal to him in a sense that I knew he would take care of me here and I didn't know if the new coach (at Permian Basin) would take care of me. That was a big concern for me. It was a big deal."The next big deal for Cowden and the Golden Eagles happens Monday when they play the Pioneers for a chance to move into position for a home game in the first round of the WVC Tournament on Feb. 25.For the record, one of Cowden's five 20-plus point games this season came on Dec. 10 in an 87-84 loss to Glenville. She hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and finished with 23 points in the 87-84 loss.Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org