COLUMBUS, Ga. – The No. 2 East seed Augusta Jaguars won their sixth-straight game with a 77-73 victory over No. 1 West seed Columbus State in the Peach Belt Conference Semifinal game in the Lumpkin Center Saturday afternoon. The Jags move on to face Lander in the PBC Championship Sunday, March 6 at 1:30 p.m.
Earning a No. 10 spot in the final NCAA Southeast Region ranks, the Jaguars (18-10) took down the Cougars (21-7) for the second time this season in a battle that had 20 lead changes.
Augusta advances to the PBC Championship game for the first time since the 2010-11 season when the Jags brought home the title.
Junior Keshun Sherrill started the weekend and picked up first-team All-Conference honors on the eve of the tourney at the PBC Awards Banquet Friday night. Sherrill led the Jaguars with 19 points – connecting on 13-15 free throws against Columbus State. Freshman Tyvez Monroe buried three from beyond the arc and totaled 14 bench points, while senior Tommy Williams scored 12 with seven rebounds.
Sophomore Tamyrik Fields had 10 points and four boards and the Jags held CSU to a 39.2 field-goal percentage while shooting 41.8 from the floor. The Jags' 37 rebounds topped the Cougars' 33 and Augusta outscored CSU 26-24 in the paint.
The three-point ball wasn't much of a factor for either team as Augusta made 5-16 (31.3 percent) and CSU 2-13 (15.4 percent). Columbus State got the free-throw line 42 times but made 29 shots, while the Jags were 26-29 (89.7 percent.)
Both the Jags and Cougars answered the first four shots and had a 17-all tied game with 11:24 to go in the first half. The opening minutes were a close affair, but the Cougars stole the lead out of the early tie before Augusta took control.
Sherrill's jumper lifted the Jags back up 19-18 and Augusta held the lead until under five minutes in the first half when CSU hit a go-ahead basket from Cam Baker.
The opening 20 minutes was a battle back and forth, but Augusta's Tamyrik Fields slammed down a dunk at the halftime buzzer for a 39-38 lead at the pause. T. Williams had eight points and four rebounds in the first half and Sherrill scored seven with two boards and two assists.
T. Williams reached double-figure points to open the second half with a jumper, but the game remained within one basket for the opening five minutes of the second half. Augusta jumped ahead 57-48 on Fields' layup with 13:47 remaining in the game, but the Cougars never backed down on their home floor.
A free throw from Baker gave CSU a 69-68 lead with 2:31 to play, but Sherrill drove to the charity stripe to make a pair of free throws. Baker got back to the free-throw line and made it a 71-69 game under a minute, but Sherrill was persistent and sunk two more free throws with 32 seconds left. He hit four more to keep the Cougars quiet and Augusta survived the buzzer for a five-point win.
The PBC Championship game is on Sunday, March 6 for a 1:30 p.m. men's tipoff. The women's finale tips at 4:00 p.m. in the Lumpkin.
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