As centers Chad July and Travis Keels watched from the bench the final six minutes of the game, point guard D’Angelo Boyce took command.
Boyce scored eight of his 14 down the stretch as No. 15 Augusta State held off Montevallo, 75-73, Monday night at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
The Jaguars shot a season-worst 43 percent from the floor. Throw into the mix that July, Keels and Harold Doby all played though foul trouble against a team that advanced to the Division II title game last season.
With Augusta State twice holding a three-point lead in the final minute, Boyce and Ryan Weems each made two free throws to hold off the Falcons (5-4, 1-1).
“It was an off night, but we’re going to pick it up tomorrow,” Boyce said. “We’re not going to be perfect. We’re going to have games like that. We just have to pick it up on defense like we did.”
The Jaguars improved to 6-0, 2-0 in Peach Belt Conference play. Augusta State now has avenged four of its defeats to three teams last season – and Wednesday the Jaguars face another team they lost to last season.
Augusta State will face No. 20 Lincoln Memorial at James Brown Arena.
Last season, Augusta State blew an 18-point lead in a road loss to Montevallo. Then in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals, the Jaguars blew a 15-point lead. On Monday night, Augusta State led by 10 with 4:14 remaining.
Montevallo’s Drico Hightower, of Augusta, scored seven of his 23 in a two-minute stretch to close the gap to four. Ryan May pulled the Falcons within 71-68 with 28 seconds remaining. Boyce responded with two free throws.
“They’re a good team. So we can’t just relax,” Boyce said. “We’ve got to pick it up more and more.”
“D.A., the leader of the team, kept everybody in it,” said Devon Wright-Nelson, who posted 21 points and 12 boards. “He told everybody to keep their head and to keep playing.”
Augusta State committed a season-low seven turnovers in the game. The Jaguars also shot 74 percent at the foul line, swishing 20 of 25 attempts in the second half, including 9 of 10 the final seven minutes.
“If we turn the ball over, we probably lose,” Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. “If we miss free throws, we probably lose.”