A litany of late-game miscues forced the Augusta State men’s basketball team into a last second prayer that went unanswered.
A potential game-tying heave by Travis Keels bounced off the rim as time expired, leaving the Jaguars with a 73-70 loss to Flagler College.
Keels said the game was lost before the final shot. The Jaguar defense allowed the Saints to shoot 70.8 percent in the second half and 51 percent for the game. The Jags were limited to shooting 40 percent for the game.
“We started the first and second half off well,” Keels said. “After halftime, they started making shots and our defense broke down. We won’t win many games moving forward without defending like we are capable of.”
The lone bright spot for the Jaguar offense was Devonte Thomas. Thomas equaled his career-best 27 points, which he set last season against Lander University. He shot eightfor 18, five for 12 from long range, and carried the load for a team that had only one other double-digit scorer.
Thomas was in the midst of his worst slump of the season, averaging 3.25 points in his past 4 games. He attributed his resurgence to his confidence retuning.
“I just tried to be confident in my shot,” Thomas said. “Whenever I saw an opportunity I just went up and shot it.”
Thomas also chimed in the lack of defensive execution during the game.
“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns caused by a lot of miscommunication on the floor,” Thomas said. “The turnovers were mental errors on our part, but it’s something that we have to move forward from.”
The team is dealing with the loss of two key players. Senior center Chad July, was dismissed for conduct detrimental to the team and Harold Doby, is out indefinitely for an arrest on a gun charge.
Augusta State head coach Dip Metress, who is still one victory away from win number 200 at ASU, said the team did well despite not being able to practice without two key pieces.
“We were limited because we had a lot of guys playing out of position,” Metress said. “It was hard for guys to adjust to the things they have never done in practice. We were at a disadvantage on offense and defense.”
The defeat was the first home loss since December 19. Dating back to November 2007, the team has gone 79-4 at home.
Thomas said rebounding will have to be a primary focus for the team moving forward.
“We have to not only box out, but create space when we are boxing out,” Thomas said.
The team will travel to Dahlonega, Ga. to take on North Georgia at 3:30 p.m.