Jaguars ' bench responds to call

In Tuesday's practice, Augusta State coach Dip Metress pulled his bench players together and told them they needed to be more productive.

A day later, they responded.

Caleb Brown came off the bench for a season-high 18 points to help lead No. 6 Augusta State to an 89-43 win over UNC Pembroke at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

The Jaguars overcame a slow start for their most lopsided victory since Nov. 21, 2004, a 115-47 win over Carver Bible. Augusta State improved to 15-1 overall (7-0 Peach Belt Conference), clinching a sixth consecutive winning season in Metress' tenure.

After suffering a six-point loss Saturday at Valdosta State, the Jaguars responded by shooting 69 percent in the second half to pull away. After suffering its worst defensive game of the year against the Blazers, Augusta State held UNC Pembroke to 31 percent shooting. The Braves scored their fewest points in a game since the 2004-05 season.

"Our Saturday loss was very disappointing," guard Tye Beal said. "We just wanted to bounce back tonight."

Augusta State's starters looked sluggish from the start. Players had a difficult time pushing the ball inside to center Alex Smith. The Jaguars also missed five of their first eight shots and committed a pair of turnovers four minutes into the game.

Metress had seen enough. He pulled all five starters at the 15:56 mark of the first half. While Smith sat a little more than two minutes, the other four starters -- guards Ben Madgen and Daniel Dixon and forwards Fred Brathwaite and Greg Hire -- sat for six minutes.

When the starters re-entered the game at the 9:41 mark, Augusta State led 13-10.

"We just came out a little bit flat," Beal said. "I guess coach just put us in to pick up the energy."

"Our bench came in and produced," Metress said. "I guess it makes us look like we knew what we were doing. We told the bench they've got to be ready to play, ready to produce when the time comes. They did a great job."

With the starters back on the floor, the Jaguars closed the half on a 26-10 run. Augusta State went into intermission up 19 points.

"I think we did a pretty good job of maintaining our intensity level," Brown said. "In the second half, we took care of business."

Smith and Brathwaite combined to scored the first 10 points in the second half, allowing Augusta State to push its lead to 49-20.

Smith scored 16 points on 6 for 6 shooting in 23 minutes. Madgen scored 14, while Brathwaite had 13 points and Dixon 11.

Brown shot 6 for 9 from the field, with three 3-pointers. He added six boards in 26 minutes.

"When you get into a groove, it definitely raises your confidence level," Brown said. "It's all about rhythm to me."

Teammate Howard Brown came off the bench for eight points in 12 minutes.

Dominic Morra scored four points with four assists, while Beal added four points, three assists and three steals.

"Our time is limited and we have to make the best of it," Caleb Brown said. "We always want to be ready."

Augusta State shot 56 percent from the field and dished out 18 assists against 18 turnovers.The Jaguars won the rebounding battle, 42-25, and posted a season-high 14 steals.

Augusta State is off until Monday's rivalry game at USC Aiken. The Jaguars play three road games next week.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.

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See a gallery of 39 game action photos at http://spotted.augusta.com/chronicle/display.html?gallery=169938

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