By Chris Gay
Staff Writer, Augusta Chronicle
GREENWOOD, S.C. - Much like last year, Clayton State gave Augusta State fits during the first round of the Peach Belt Tournament. Just like last year, Augusta State won the game.
The North Division's top-seeded Jaguars held off a second-half charge by the South's fourth-seeded Lakers and defeated Clayton State 79-68 at Finis Horne Arena on Thursday.
``I thought we played great for the first two minutes,'' Augusta State coach Gary Tuell said. ``After that, it was a struggle. I don't know why (Clayton) didn't win more games, because they've got great talent. I think if they would've beaten us today, they would've had an excellent chance of making it to the finals.
``I like our chances in this tournament. I like them a lot.''
Augusta State is one game away from the championship matchup. The Jaguars (18-9) will face familiar foe USC Aiken in the semifinals at 5 p.m. today. The two teams split their regular-season series.
``I guess I want to play Aiken because I like Mike Roberts, and he's my good friend,'' Tuell said. ``That would mean they won today. I'd be happy for Mike if they could win today.''
USC Aiken pulled off an 84-72 upset over North Florida in Round 1.
Augusta State shot 49 percent from the floor and out-rebounded Clayton State 43-27. Gary Boodnikoff scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, while T.J. Ott added 17 points and Festus Hawkins 12.
``I was excited to play,'' Boodnikoff said. ``I really wanted to play well. I was nervous, but I just wanted to shoot the ball well.''
Boodnikoff came out hot, scoring Augusta State's first five points as the Jaguars led 5-2. Later, Boodnikoff drained a 3-pointer from the left corner as the Jaguars built a 15-4 lead.
After Clayton State pulled to within seven, the Jaguars went running again. Chris Harriman capped a 22-10 Augusta State run with a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Jaguars a 39-20 lead late in the half. Augusta State took a 15-point lead at the break.
The Jaguars opened the second half with three turnovers and an offensive foul. Kareen Harris converted a three-point play to cap a 13-4 run as the Lakers pulled to within 47-41 with 13:18 remaining.
``In the first half, everything was going on emotion,'' Hawkins said. ``The second half, we just started settling down. I guess in the second half you saw Augusta State. The first half you saw the (Los Angeles) Lakers.''
On Augusta State's next possession T.J. Ott rebounded a Boodnikoff miss, made the layup as he was fouled and converted the free throw. Ott added four more points to build the lead back to 13.
Clayton State (9-18) twice cut Augusta State's lead to seven down the stretch but never got any closer. Augusta Sate, which made 25 of 37 shots from the free-throw line, hit 10 of 12 foul shots in the final 2:01 of the game.
``We missed more free throws today than we've missed in a month,'' Tuell said. ``We're an outstanding free-throw shooting team. And that hurt us.''
March 27, 2001 Hawkins and Boodnikoff Named to the NABC All-Region Team
March 11, 2001 Jaguars look to next season
March 10, 2001 Magical Season Comes to an End for Jaguars
March 10, 2001 Augusta State knocked out of tournament
March 10, 2001 Rams' stifling 'D' steamrolls Jaguars
March 9, 2001 Jaguars are a 'can do' team
March 9, 2001 Jaguars top Catawba College 96-84
March 8, 2001 Jaguars ready to take on Catawba
March 7, 2001 Augusta State coach ready for challenge
March 5, 2001 Augusta State Men’s Basketball Itinerary
March 5, 2001 Augusta State earns 6th seed
March 3, 2001 Jaguars reign in Peach Belt
March 3, 2001 Augusta State Wins Peach Belt Tournament Title
March 2, 2001 ASU Defeats USC Aiken in PBC Semifinals
March 1, 2001 Jaguars top Clayton State
February 24, 2001 ASU Wraps North Division Top-Seed With 83-65 Win Over Francis Marion
February 21, 2001 No. 22 Pirates Win 16th Straight, Defeat ASU 58-45
February 17, 2001 ASU Falls to Georgia College & State
February 15, 2001 ASU 89, Francis Marion 73
February 14, 2001 ASU Rolls Over Francis Marion 89-73
February 11, 2001 Jaguars celebrate homecoming with win
February 10, 2001 ASU Rolls Over North Florida 93-50
February 10, 2001 Jaguars face North Florida at home
February 7, 2001 ASU Moves Back Into First Place With 70-63 Win Over UNC Pembroke
February 3, 2001 Senators down Augusta State 68-60
February 1, 2001 Jaguars defeat Pacers 72-63
January 31, 2001 ASU Moves Back Into First Place With 72-63 Win Over USC Aiken
January 29, 2001 Records Fall as ASU Defeats Life University 108-87
January 24, 2001 Jaguars suffer tough setback vs. Kennesaw
January 20, 2001 TJ Ott Leads ASU to 61-47 Win over USC Spartanburg
January 18, 2001 Pacers edge Jaguars 53-51
January 17, 2001 Second Half Rally Falls Short as ASU Falls to USCA
January 17, 2001 Jaguars, Pacers renew PBC rivalry
January 16, 2001 Paine tops ASU in City Classic
January 15, 2001 Paine Defeats ASU 68-58 Behind Yari Scott’s 27 Points
January 15, 2001 Gary Boodnikoff Named Peach Belt Player of the Week
January 14, 2001 Jaguars remain at top of league
January 13, 2001 Gary Boodnikoff Scores 26 in 80-53 Win Over Lander
January 10, 2001 Braves and Jaguars Split Peach Belt Doubleheader
January 8, 2001 Festus Hawkins Lifts ASU to 64-63 Overtime Win
January 7, 2001 Jaguars give Harris win number 1
January 6, 2001 Augusta State Defeats Columbus State 74-57
January 4, 2001 ASU Men and Women Sweep Clayton State
January 3, 2001 Augusta State Defeats Clayton State 65-54
December 21, 2000 Augusta State’s Gary Tuell to Host Holiday Basketball Clinic ... Again
December 18, 2000 Augusta State Falls To Life, 72-55
December 13, 2000 Augusta State’s Gary Tuell to Host Holiday Basketball Clinic
December 13, 2000 Festus Hawkins and Sharon Taylor Ranked Nationally
December 10, 2000 Fast start lifts Jags past Savannah State
December 9, 2000 Festus Hawkins Powers ASU Over Savannah State 87-67
December 2, 2000 Augusta State Defeats Lenoir-Rhyne 71-55
December 1, 2000 ASU Falls to 10th-Ranked Wingate 103-88
November 30, 2000 ASU Defeats Rollins 70-68
November 27, 2000 ASU Defeats West Georgia 66-61 in Home Opener
November 22, 2000 Augusta State Notches First Win at Savannah State 68-45
November 17, 2000 West Georgia Defeats Augusta State 76-74 in Overtime Thriller
November 11, 2000 Augusta State Defeats ASU Alumni/CSRA Select Team 91-55
October 14, 2000 Augusta State to host Midnight Madness Saturday, October 14
October 11, 2000 ASU Seeking Third Straight Peach Belt North Division Title
October 10, 2000 Augusta State Men’s Basketball Opens 2000-01 Season at West Georgia