COLUMBUS, Ga. — The Augusta State women’s basketball program is making progress. To see it sometimes requires looking past the final score.
The Lady Jaguars lost 69-41 to No. 3 Clayton State on Thursday in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. But the game only got out of hand as the defending national champions scored the final 13 points of the game.
“I am proud of our team, proud of our girls,” Augusta State coach Nate Teymer said, “to look at where the program has come in the past three or four years and the direction we are headed. But at the same time, we are disappointed. At Augusta State we expect to win games. I am just disappointed in the outcome, but optimistic about the future.”
Teymer, who is in his second season at Augusta State, inherited a program that had won a total of five games in the previous two seasons. This season, the Lady Jaguars finished with 12 wins after winning eight games last year.
Thursday’s game was much more competitive than the 38-point drubbing Clayton State gave Augusta State back on Jan. 14.
“The game was a lot closer that the score indicated,” Clayton State coach Dennis Cox said. “They were hard to shake. That team was a lot tougher than they were a month ago. I knew going in from watching film that they would be.”
Both teams struggled in the first half as they combined for 23 turnovers: Clayton State (11) and Augusta State (12). But Augusta State shot only 28 percent in the first half and trailed 25-18.
The Lady Jaguars kept the deficit in single digits for the first six minutes of the second half. Amber Peterson, who came off the bench to lead Augusta State with 14 points in her final game, hit a field goal with 14:38 left to bring Augusta State within seven, 33-26.
But Clayton State scored eight points over the next two minutes to build a 41-26 lead and it never slipped under 10 points the rest of the way.
“After that one, I feel fortunate to get the first one behind us and get a victory,” Cox said. “We have found over the years that the first one is always the tough one.”