AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Augusta University women's basketball team forced Benedict College into 19 turnovers to win a 73-68 non-conference game over the visiting Benedict College Tigers on Sunday afternoon in Christenberry Fieldhouse. Augusta improved to 4-1 with the victory and they begin Peach Belt Conference play on Friday, Dec. 16 at the University of North Georgia.
Augusta junior transfer JJ Williams scored a season-high 16 points in the win. Williams willed the team with 11 early points in the first half and added two assists and a steal and rebound. Ranked sixth in the Peach Belt Conference with 16.8 points per game, Jags senior Breonna O'Conner scored 16 points with three boards, and a pair of assists and steals.
Sophomore Brianna Middleton was two points shy of her career high and one off her career high in rebounds and ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Benedict shot 44.4 percent from the field to Augusta's 42.2 percent, but the Jags' big first half was gave them the edge.
Neither team was strong from the beyond the arc, with Augusta shooting 3-for-10 (30.0 percent) and the Tigers 4-for-22 (18.2 percent). Benedict had 19 total turnovers with 17 coming in the first half. The Jags were outscored 46-32 in the second 20 minutes of play, but they took the half with a 19-point lead. Despite 16 turnovers, the Jags never trailed in the game.
Senior point guard Kayla Lovett took a foul and hit a free throw in the first possession of the game to open scoring. The Jags forced eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and led 15-10 after JJ Williams hit a corner three pointer to beat the buzzer before the first media timeout.
JJ Williams knocked down back-to-back treys to boost the score to 25-13 with 5:59 on the clock in the first half. In the final four minutes of the half, the Jaguars built a 19-point lead and had all the momentum.
To start the second half up by 19, Augusta stayed in control and led by 20 on an O'Conner free throw. After that point, the lead dwindled when Benedict's Shirvel Luke and Destiny Betts started scoring. Luke printed the floor in consecutive possessions to keep the Tigers close and a three by Shanaissa White brought them to a 57-48 deficit.
Head coach Nate Teymer called an Augusta timeout with 8:08 to play in the contest and the Jags scored on a play that set up a wide open Middleton under the rim. After being blown out in the first half, the Tigers made it a three-point game after the Jags committed three turnovers in two minutes. Luke did it all for Benedict under five minutes and her jumper made it 66-65 for her 20th point of the game. Augusta responded when Harris and Williams each made a free throw after a contested layup to keep the Jags alive in consecutive and-one plays.
The last two minutes were fought at the free-throw line and Augusta survived 73-68. Luke had 22 to lead Benedict, Betts turned in 15, and Mikeisha Moore and White each scored 11.
The Jaguars begin Peach Belt play on Friday, Dec. 16 when they travel to Dahlonega, Ga., to take on the North Georgia Nighthawks.
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