One of the most frustrating seasons in Augusta State history came to a close Friday night.
Lacking size and depth, the Jaguars shot 40 percent from the field and couldn’t contain Montevallo’s inside game in a 60-53 defeat in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals in Columbus, Ga.
The Falcons (19-8) advance to play UNC Pembroke at 8 p.m. tonight in the semifinals. Augusta State finishes at 14-13.
The season began with great promise for the Jaguars, who won their first six contests. But the wheels came off in mid-January when starting forward Harold Doby was suspended indefinitely following a gun charge. Then, center Chad July, the high profile senior transfer from Flagler, was booted from the team a day later.
With those two big bodies long gone from the lineup, Augusta State had no answer for Montevallo’s inside game. Drico Hightower, a 6-foot-7 senior forward from Augusta, helped the Falcons win the rebounding battle, 34-24. Hightower finished with 11 points and eight rebounds (six offensive). Forward Marvin Fitzgerald added nine points and 12 boards.
“It’s hard to keep guys like that off the backboard,” Jaguars senior center Travis Keels said. “It’s hard to move them.”
“(Montevallo coach Danny Young) did a great job of getting it inside and sticking with his game plan,” Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. “That’s what good teams do.”
The Falcons went on a 15-2 run midway through the first half and went into halftime up 27-21.
The Falcons pushed their lead to as many as 16 in the second half.
Devon Wright-Nelson posted 14 points and 10 rebounds for Augusta
• Ronald Zimmerman drained seven 3-pointers en route to 23 points as USC Aiken pulled away from Clayton State for an 85-71
win today in the quarterfinals.
The Pacers (20-7), the regular season conference champions, advance to play the North Georgia at
6 p.m. today in the semifinals.
Against Clayton State (13-14), USC Aiken shot 51 percent from the field.
Santoine Butler posted 14 points and five blocks (all in the second half) for the Pacers, while Re’mon Nelson and Paul Larsen each chipped in with 12 points apiece.
Omari Murray paced the Lakers with a game-high 30 points.