MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Augusta State battled back from a double-digit, second-half deficit on the road Sunday afternoon before falling 72-69 to non-conference foe Mount Olive in Kornegay Arena.
The loss was the second straight for the 12th-ranked Jaguars (6-2). The win was the second straight for the Trojans, who improved to 3-7.
ASU junior shooting guard Ryan Weems, making his first start of the season, paced the Jags with a career-high 23 points. Sophomore forward Devon Wright-Nelson booked 16 points and junior forward Harold Doby had a team-best 10 rebounds. Sophomore Roman Hill turned in eight points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes and senior Travis Keels registered a career-high six blocks. D'Angelo Boyce netted eight points and five assists, while Chad July managed six points and eight boards.
Ewon Wright led the Trojans with 16 points, while Mahamed Ibrahim turned in 15. Darrell Patterson chipped in 13 points off the bench and Deshaune Green added 10. Dory Hines grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
ASU shot just 39.4 percent overall, including just 20.0 percent from long range (3-of-15). The Trojans, who only shot 35.3 percent for the game, canned 11 treys and outrebounded ASU 46-42.
Mount Olive jumped ahead 6-0 in the first 90 seconds of the game and led by as many as 11 in the opening half. A Doby layup pulled ASU within 25-23 at the 6:40 mark, only to have the Trojans rattle off seven straight. Weems' 3-point play just before the half cut the Jags' deficit to 36-28 before MOC scored just ahead of the buzzer for a 38-28 halftime lead.
In the second half, ASU trailed by as many as 14 after a Patterson 3-pointer at the 15:22 mark. The Jags answered with seven straight, and a Wright-Nelson 3-point play pulled ASU within 49-42 with 14:05 to play. MOC pushed its advantage back to 10 before Boyce's driving layup capped a 7-0 spurt at the 9:08 mark and pulled the Jags to within 53-50.
The Trojans countered with five straight points to move ahead 59-52. Weems and Boyce combined for seven straight and Boyce's off-balance, driving floater at the 4:47 mark forced a 59-all tie. The Trojans went back up by four before a Weems' layup and a pair of Boyce free throws knotted the game at 66-all with 2:43 remaining. After the teams traded missed shots, MOC's Wright canned a jumper and Green got free for a layup.
Weems raced up the floor and hit a trey – his third of the game – with 13 seconds left to pull ASU within 70-69. Jordan McCain made two free throws with :07 left for the final margin, as Boyce's game-tying attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.
The Jags shuffled their starting lineup for the first time this season, with Weems and Keels starting in place of Devonte Thomas and July, respectively.
The contest marked the first of three straight road games for the Jags, who travel to Florence, S.C., on Wednesday, Jan. 2 to take on Francis Marion in a Peach Belt Conference matchup at 7:30 p.m., in Smith University Center.