The Augusta State sophomore guard posted a career-high 19 points to help the Jaguars fend off Benedict, 82-71, at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
With the win Wednesday, Augusta State improved to 3-0. Though the Jaguars avenged last year’s loss to the Tigers (2-1) to remain perfect, Boyce wasn’t ready to give his team an ‘A’ grade.
“I’d say a ‘B’,” he said. “We’re not at the level we should be playing – championship basketball. We’re winning games, but we’re not at the point yet where we can win the Peach Belt.”
Bad news struck late for Augusta State when Devon Wright-Nelson sprinted down the court for a breakaway bucket with 1:51 remaining. The sophomore forward injured his left leg when he planted to go up for a layup. He came down in agony and remained on the floor until he was helped off by team trainers. The early diagnosis is a calf strain, according to assistant athletic trainer Lisa Cummins.
Augusta State coach Dip Metress said Wright-Nelson, who posted 18 points and seven boards, likely is out for Augusta State’s next game Sunday at Virginia Union, but he’s unsure how much additional time his sophomore forward will miss.
With Wright-Nelson out, Metress said the Jaguars possibly will move sharpshooter Ryan Weems into the starting lineup.
For the second game in a row, Weems led Augusta State in scoring with 22 points on 3 3-pointers. Devonte Thomas added 15 points, all in the second half.
With Harold Doby, Chad July and Thomas all in foul trouble, Augusta State swished eight of 11 3-pointers in the second half. The team also converted 17 of its 20 free throws after intermission, finishing at 80 percent for the game.
“The positive is we made free throws,” Metress said. “I was pleased with the fact we were able to pull out a win with Doby in foul trouble, playing without him.”
With the game tied at 36 early in the second half, Thomas swished his first 3-pointer.
After Rickie Jackson missed on the other end, Thomas drained another three from the right corner.
Wright-Nelson and Thomas each added a pair of free throws.
Then, Thomas canned another 3-pointer – his third in two minutes – to cap a 13-0 run.
With 14:47 remaining, Augusta State led 49-36.
“My teammates kept pushing me, saying to shoot it,” Thomas said. “They just told me to keep my head up.”
Tydran Beaty scored 22 points to lead Benedict, while Xavier Collier added 15.
The Tigers posted 18 offensive boards, but they also shot just 40 percent from the field.