Jaguars top Catawba College 96-84

By Chris Gay 
Staff Writer, Augusta Chronicle

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Twenty-three years after its first Division II Tournament appearance, Augusta State knocked off the dust and is putting a little wear and tear on its dancing shoes.

Gary Boodnikoff and T.J. Ott combined for 50 points as the sixth-seeded Jaguars advanced to the Big Dance's round of 32 with a 96-84 win over No. 3 seed Catawba College at Brayboy
Gymnasium on Thursday. With the win, Augusta State (21-9) will play second-seeded Winston-Salem State (24-4) today at 6 p.m.

"It feels real nice to get the first NCAA win in school history,'' Jaguars coach Gary Tuell said. "In the first half, I thought we played pretty well defensively. And on offense it seems like we did just about anything we wanted to.''

Catawba (25-5), a veteran of the South Atlantic Regional with three trips in the past four years, had troubles with Augusta State's size. The Jaguars scored 32 of their 46 first-half points inside the paint.

Augusta State started the game hitting six of its first seven shots and built a 15-6 lead four minutes into the half. Later, Boodnikoff swished a 10-foot jumper, and Festus Hawkins
added a spinning lay-in to stake the Jaguars to a 28-11 lead.

Hawkins picked up his second foul with 9:09 left before halftime as the Jaguars held an 18-point lead. The 6-foot-11 center sat all but five seconds the rest of half, and the Indians slowly cut into the lead.

Center Alex Luyk capped a 12-4 Catawba run with a 3-pointer that pulled the Indians to within 41-32 with 1:29 to play before halftime. Augusta State's Marcus Gradney answered with a 3-pointer, and Luyk answered with another bomb.

Augusta State took a 46-37 lead into the break. But five Jaguars, including four starters, were in trouble with two fouls at halftime.

Hawkins picked up two more quick fouls five minutes into the second half. However, Catawba's leading scorer, Nedzad Gusic, fouled out with 13:19 remaining, and Luyk followed suit four minutes later.

"I didn't know till I came to the bench. Someone said their two best players were gone, and we had to kick it up a gear,'' said Jaguars forward Russell Hinder, who scored seven points along with a team-high 10 rebounds in 36 minutes.

The Jaguars extended a 10-point lead to 75-59 on two Hawkins free throws. Hawkins, who played just 14 minutes, fouled out with 7:11 remaining, and the Augusta State lead fell to 10 on a Duke Phipps layup.

But the Jaguars bombed away as Boodnikoff made two straight 3-pointers and Ott added another. Explosion. The Augusta fans went wild as the game was over at 84-67 with 4:27 remaining.

"I hit one and just wanted the ball back,'' Boodnikoff said. "I didn't get off to a real good start but had a good second half.''

Boodnikoff scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half, while Ott also scored 25. The Jaguars shot 51 percent from the floor as Jayme Johnson and Hawkins added 14 and 12, respectively.

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