AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The top-seeded Augusta State
Jaguars got off to a fast start and never looked back as they
advanced to the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship game for the
second consecutive year with a 77-61 win over fifth-seeded Barton
Sunday night. With that win, Augusta State will face USC Aiken on
Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. for a trip to the Elite Eight. It will be the
second straight year that the Regional Championship game is made
entirely of Peach Belt Conference teams.
With the win, ASU extended its winning streak to 14 in a row and improved to 28-4 on the season, setting a new school record for wins in a season. Barton, champions of Conference Carolinas, saw their season come to a close with a 25-7 record.
ASU hit six of their first seven shots in the game to open up an early 13-4 lead. That lead grew to double digits following a Fred Brathwaite three-pointer that made it 16-6. Barton struggled from the field in the first 10 minutes, hitting three of their first 13 shots.
The ASU lead ballooned to 20-7 following a Garret Siler layup before Barton responded with an 11-5 stretch, five of those points coming from Bobby Buffaloe, that cut the lead to nine. The lead was 10 with 3:07 to play in the half when ASU opened up a 7-2 run with a Ben Madgen jumper and a three-pointer from Daniel Dixon. Two Brathwaite free throws capped the run and gave ASU a 43-26 halftime lead.
Barton's scoring struggles continued into the second half as the Bulldogs were held to three points for the first 5:21. ASU took advantage, building their lead to as many as 25 on a three-pointer from Ben Madgen and another from Dixon.
A Siler dunk with 11:46 to play left the lead at 20, but the Jaguars went cold from the field, scoring three points over the next three minutes while Barton went on an 11-3 run, four of those coming on back-to-back jumpers from L.J. Dunn, to cut the lead to 12 with 8:11 to go.
The lead remained at 12 with 3:44 remaining after a three-point play from Barton's Jaren Haley, but the Jaguars put the game away with a 6-2 spurt with another dunk from Siler and free throws from Madgen and Dixon.
Siler led all players with 19 points, hitting seven of eight from the field. The senior also had seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Madgen added 18 and five boards while Brathwaite scored 13 with a team-best eight rebounds. The Jaguars shot 60% from the field in the first half and 51% for the game.
Dunn led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The junior hit seven of 12 from the floor while six of his 10 boards were on the offensive glass. Aaron Suggs added 10 for Barton while Eddie Kershaw scored 11. The Bulldogs outrebounded ASU by one and forced 18 Jaguar turnovers to only 11 of their own.
Augusta State and USC Aiken have met three times this season in PBC play. The two split their regular-season meetings, each winning on their home floor, while ASU won the PBC Tournament Championship over USCA 65-64 on March 8.
Barton Head Coach Ron Lievense
"Our hats go off to a tremendous Augusta State team, they are well coached and have tremendous talent. I want to thank my seniors for everything they have brought to Barton College, they have been tremendous students and great players."
Augusta State's pressure:
"Tonight when you look at the percentages, we didn't make free throws and three-pointers, and we didn't play to our capability, but that goes to the credit of the Augusta State team and the tremendous coaching of Dip Metress."
On Tuesday's Final:
"You are going to see two tremendous basketball teams on, I think you have a great matchup of two teams that are extremely talented, physically both teams are gifted with talent. They can both score around the basket, so it's going to be two great teams going to war."
Barton's Center David King
On guarding Garret Siler:
"We had a plan going into it, to be the best you want to play the best, but I didn't do the things I had planned on doing. I was disappointed with how I played, but he is a tremendous player."
On a successful season:
"Right now it's kind of tough because of what just happened, but when we take the time to look back we will be extremely thankful for what happened this year and Barton will be back strong again next year. I am so thankful to have been apart of a family like this."
Barton's Guard Errol Frails
On Augusta State's Defense:
"They are very disciplined on defense, they weren't biting on ball screens or ball fakes, and we didn't capitalize on turnovers and missed layups.
This team has grown a lot form the beginning of the year, every time we made a run they hit a big shot. It hurt, but we never stopped fighting."
Barton's Guard Bobby Buffaloe
On his Career at Barton:
"It's been a good career, it's a hard way to finish it, but it was great, it will hard to leave."
Augusta State Head Coach Dip Metress
"We knew Barton was going to play very hard and have a heart of a champion. They gave unbelievable effort."
"They (Barton) were driving the ball so much that we had to go zone. They are very quick, I thought our bench played very well in the first half, our size bothered them, but they are a very difficult team to guard."
On the championship:
"We are excited about practicing tomorrow, they (USC Aiken) have played very well the last two games, so it will be a big challenge for us, I think this is what everyone wanted to see. There are 16 teams left on Tuesday, and the reality of it is there are two great teams here."
Augusta State's Center Garret Siler
"We knew we had to come out with intensity, we had a big size advantage so we knew we had to play hard, and we got the win."
On Tuesday's championship:
"We know there players and they know us, its just going to be a battle on the floor."
Augusta State's On playing in the Championship:
"We are very excited to be play on Tuesday, it will be a great matchup, its just going to be battle and both teams are going to play hard and it is very exciting for us."
Augusta State's Forward Fred Brathwaite
On Ben Madgen's injury:
"I wasn't worried, he's a tough dude, when he went down we put a sub in and kept playing, I knew he would be back."
On Tuesday's matchup:
"No matter who we play, it just feels good to know we are playing on Tuesday."