By John Dell
JOURNAL REPORTER, Winston-Salem Journal
Winston-Salem State's defense, resembling a tourniquet attached to a fresh wound, was in full force last night in the South Atlantic Regional semifinals.
And it was Augusta State that felt the full brunt.
The Rams used an early second-half barrage and turned to an old friend called defense to bury the Jaguars 65-48 at Brayboy Gym on the campus of Johnson C. Smith. The Rams will play the winner of last night's other semifinal between Johnson C. Smith and Wingate tonight at 7:30 in the South Atlantic Regional final.
Shaking off a sluggish showing in the CIAA Tournament last week, the Rams went to work late in the first half to break open a close game. A 9-0 run to end the half was the spark the Rams have been looking for in recent games.
"Our defense was suffocating," Coach Rick Duckett of WSSU said last night after winning his 150th career game. "We really took some things away from them and one thing that I liked was it was against bigger people."
The Jaguars, which start two 6-10 players and another one who is 6-9, were no match for the Rams' full-court pressure. Unable to solve the pressure, the Jaguars committed 23 turnovers and in the first half had nine turnovers off the pressure.
"Facing them is a lot like playing Arkansas and their 40-minutes of hell," Coach Garry Tuell of Augusta State said.
Offensively, the Rams had another balanced effort with Centellis Tucker scoring 11 points and Devonaire Deas came off the bench to add 10 points. Deas fed Kevin Henry for a layup with one second left before halftime to give the Rams a 32-23 lead.
The carnage continued in the second half as the Rams kept the defensive pressure on and went on a 17-7 run to end it.
Leading the defensive charge as usual was Marcus Best, who hounded the sharp-shooting Gary Boodnikoff into 3 of 11 shooting. And on the inside against 6-10 Festus Hawkins and 6-10 Russell Hinder, Duckett coaxed outstanding defensive play out of Corey Thompson and Tyrone Robeson.
"I kind of feel like I've been letting my teammates down here of late," said Best, who scored nine points, had seven rebounds and made three steals. "We just came out and played some good defense."
The Jaguars (21-10) cut the lead to 37-30 early in the second half, but unlike the last few games where the Rams had trouble putting opponents away, this time it was different.
When Tucker hit consecutive 3-pointers to end the 17-7 run, the Rams lead was 49-30 with 10:16 to play.
Tucker also had to run the offense late in the first half when point guard Rob Williams was on the bench in foul trouble. Tucker said the difference between last night and the CIAA Tournament, where the Rams lost in the semifinals to Fayetteville State, had to do with rest. Duckett gave the team more days off than usual since last Friday, and the Rams looked fresh.
"I felt pretty comfortable on those (3-pointers) and they were open looks so I just took them and made them," Tucker said.
The Rams never allowed the Jaguars to get closer than 14 points the rest of the way. With 2:20 to go, Chris Harriman hit a 3-pointer to cut the Rams lead to 59-45. But Williams hit two free throws and Deas got a breakaway dunk that ended any hopes of a comeback.
A night after having their second-highest scoring game of the year when they beat Catawba 96-84, the Jaguars had one of their lowest scoring games. They shot 44 percent from the field but only took 36 shots.
Tuell's Jaguars played the Rams twice last season and lost both times, averaging 25 turnovers. He said that it was obvious what caused last night's problems.
"We played around them instead of putting pressure back on them," Tuell said. "You have to fight pressure with pressure and we didn't do that."
The Rams will have to quickly turn their attention to tonight's regional final. On the line is a trip to the Elite Eight in Bakersfield Calif., which starts March 21. The Rams and Duckett reached the regional final two years ago but lost to Lander.
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