GREENWOOD, S.C. – The top-seeded Augusta University men's basketball team met Columbus State on Saturday in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Semifinal and couldn't overcome a first-half struggle to fall 62-57 on Saturday afternoon in the Finis Horne Arena.
Augusta (23-7) won the PBC East Division title and posted the best regular-season record in the league. The Jaguars made their 26th appearance all time in the PBC Tourney and moved to a 29-22 record that dates back to the 1991-91 season.
The PBC Player of the Year and first team All-Conference selection, Keshun Sherrill, led all scorers with 22 points. He is now 19 points shy of the PBC all-time scoring title. Junior Kyle Doyle dished out nine points and seven rebounds off the bench, while sophomores Tyvez Monroe and Deane Williams each added six points.
The Jags are ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Southeast Regional and await the selection show for NCAA Tournament fate.
Columbus (20-8), the No. 2 seed in the west, was guided by Jacori Payne's 17 points and Ryan Burnett's 15. CSU shot 42.2 percent from the floor (19-for-45) in the game and held Augusta to a 29.8 field-goal percentage (17-for-57). It was the lowest field-goal percentage for the Jags on the year.
Augusta was outrebounded 40-34 and forced 12 CSU turnovers while only committing nine.
The winners of the semifinals advance to the PBC Tournament Championship game scheduled for Sunday, March 5 at 2:00 p.m. in the Finis Horne Arena.
AU won the tipoff and Monroe found D. Williams for game-opening dunk. The first 10 minutes remained a two-possession game, but Columbus State jumped up big towards the half. The Cougars climbed to over a 10-point lead and took the half 37-25. Burnett and Payne each had 10 points in the first half to highlight CSU, while the Jags' Sherrill put up eight.
Augusta shot 23.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes and Columbus posted a 66.7 field-goal percentage and made five three pointers to AU's one. CSU led by 17 at one point in the second half, but a 12-0 Jaguar run sparked the team back into a fight.
The second made three pointer for Augusta gave AU a 50-49 lead when Monroe buried one off an Aaron Byrd assist. The score danced back and forth under five minutes until Monroe hit another deep ball to keep the Jags up.
CSU worked a tie game at 56-all with a minute and a half to go and it remained even to under 60 seconds. Augusta fouled Burnett and he made both at the charity stripe for a two-point advantage. The Cougars went on to win at the free-throw line with a 62-57 final.
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