UNC Pembroke implemented a physical brand of ball that led to struggles in the paint for Augusta State.
The result was a constant battle to come back that fell short.
UNC Pembroke took advantage of second-chance opportunities and withstood a late charge to beat Augusta State 65-61 on Saturday at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
UNC Pembroke (13-7, 6-4 PBC) jumped out to a 12-2 lead within the first 5 minutes, forcing coach Dip Metress to call a timeout. The Braves reached a lead as large as 12 before the Jaguars spent the rest of the half, and most of the game, climbing back.
“There’s a saying that you can’t win a game within the first 5 minutes, but you can lose one,” Metress said. “We got down 14-2 and played catch up for most of the game, and we didn’t have as much juice.”
Augusta State (10-6, 5-4 PBC) fought back midway through the second half and came within 3, but the offense could not make the tying basket. UNC Pembroke inched away within the final minute to hold onto the lead.
Augusta State struggled in the paint because of UNC Pembroke’s size, falling victim to 20 second-chance points from the Braves. Pembroke also beat the Jaguars 30-20 in the paint.
The Braves out-rebounded the Jaguars 38-31, including 16 offensive boards from the Braves. Pembroke had 23 rebounds to Augusta State’s 14 at the half.
George Blakeney, who led Pembroke with 16 points and 13 rebounds, had six offensive boards.
“We knew, with their size, how it was going to be,” Metress said. “They had a size advantage, and we knew it was going to be an issue.”
The Jaguars were led by Ryan Weems, who had 21 points and six rebounds. Devon Wright-Nelson had 16 points and six rebounds.
Augusta State failed to take advantage of second-place Armstrong Atlantic’s loss Saturday, slipping to fourth in the division, a half game behind UNC Pembroke. The Jaguars had moved ahead of the Braves on Jan. 21 when they beat Georgia College and State.
UNC Pembroke swept Augusta State in the season series 2-0. It’s the first time the Jaguars have been on the losing end of a sweep since USC Upstate beat them twice in 2005-2006.