PEMBROKE, N.C. – The Augusta University men's basketball team won its first Peach Belt Conference game of the season on Monday night with an 80-78 thriller over the UNC Pembroke Braves in the English E. Jones Center.
Augusta played its third straight road game in the Peach Belt and improved to 8-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference with the victory. The Jags dealt UNCP (9-3, 2-1 PBC) their first conference loss and first loss at home this season on Lumbee Bank Court.
UNCP erased a 23-point deficit in the second half and tied the game 78-all with three free throws with seven seconds to play. Augusta senior Keshun Sherrill drew a foul and nailed both free throws with four seconds left to hold off the Braves.
Sophomore Vlad Cobzaru came off the bench and recorded his career best 15 points while adding six rebounds. Sherrill led all players with 18 points and junior Kyle Doyle produced 10 boards and 10 points. Sophomore Tamyrik Fields had nine rebounds and eight points for Augusta.
UNCP's Nigel Grant and Akia Pruitt each scored 15 and Mike Smith 14. Augusta shot 40 percent (26-of-65) from the floor to UNCP's 37 percent (25-of-68) and outrebounded 48-41. In the paint Augusta outscored the Braves 36-24 and scored 14 second chance points.
The game was a one possession battle for the first three minutes until Sherrill found sophomore Tyvez Monroe for Augusta's first three pointer of the game. That sparked an Augusta run where they led by double figures on sophomore Andrew Parker's layup with 4:27 to play in the first half
The Jaguars took the lead in the first half with 17:08 on the clock and never let it go as they led by as much as 13 and took halftime up 36-26. Augusta shot 41 percent from field-goal territory to UNCP's 27 percent, but they had 10 turnovers to their seven in the opening half.
The lead increased in the second half by 23 at one point. Two free throws from Sherrill with 6:29 to go put the Jags to the 70-point mark with a 70-54 lead. The Braves turned it around and back-to-back Pembroke threes in the fourth minute made it an eight-point battle.
It ignited an 11-0 run and the Jags only led by three with just over two minutes to go. Deane Williams ended the drought with a jumper for a 76-71 game, but a free throw from Akia Pruitt and three ball from Mike Smith with 54 seconds made it a one-point affair. After UNCP called a full timeout, Augusta head coach Dip Metress drew up a play that had Sherrill sink a layup for the Jags to go back up by three. Augusta fouled Smith with seven seconds left on a three-point attempt and he made every free throw to tie the game at 78-all.
Augusta inbounded the ball and the Braves fouled Sherrill, the best free throw shooter in the Peach Belt with a league-best 90.5 percent from the charity stripe. Sherrill stayed cool and nailed both to give Augusta the win.
The busy week progresses on Thursday, Jan. 5 when the Jags host Georgia Southwestern for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Augusta also hosts the Montevallo Falcons on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 3:30 p.m. for three Peach Belt games in one week.
Fans of Jaguar Athletics can subscribe to the email listserve by clicking here. Fans can follow Augusta University at www.AugustaJags.com and receive short updates on Facebook at Augusta University Athletics and on Twitter at @AugustaJags
-- 30 --