A significant advantage in free throws proved to be the deciding factor in Augusta State’s Peach Belt Conference victory over UNC Pembroke on Wednesday night.
The Jaguars were 31 for 36 from the free- throw line to push past the Braves, 76-72.
UNC Pembroke hit 15 free throws, but only went to the line 19 times.
“Free throws helped us win late,” Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. “They’re a good team with a lot of people back from an NCAA Tournament team. You get the win and you’re happy.”
With their fourth win in a row, the Jaguars are in second place in the East Division, one game ahead of the Braves.
“We didn’t shoot it very well in the second half, but we made free throws,” Metress said. “Very good team effort. Very proud we got this win. It’s been a tough stretch for us.”
Devon Wright-Nelson led the Jaguars (13-7, 8-3 Peach Belt) with 17 points and five rebounds, including 10 for 10 from the free throw line. He picked up two big baskets in the first half, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining before halftime.
“He played very well,” Metress said. “He had a really tough matchup guarding a guard early in the game before putting him on a post late in the game. He’s a smart player and he’s getting better.”
O’Neal Armstrong added 15 points and five assists for Augusta State, also ending up perfect at the free-throw line at 6 for 6. He also went a perfect 3 for 3 from behind the 3-point line.
Devonte Thomas recorded 11 points but on only 3 for 11 shooting, all from behind the 3-point line.
UNC Pembroke (13-7, 6-3) jumped to a 13-5 lead in the first half before the Jaguars responded with a 17-4 run. Wright-Nelson capped the run with the go-ahead 3-pointer at the seven-minute mark. Augusta State entered the locker room with an eight-point lead at 34-26.
“We came out lackadaisically,” Wright-Nelson said. “We can’t do that. If we want to be successful, we have to come out for 40 minutes with no letdowns.”
Ben Jacobs led UNC Pembroke with 20 points on 7 for 8 shooting, including 2 for 2 behind the 3-point line.