Augusta State coach Dip Metress ended practice two days ago upset with how his players performed.
The hangover continued into Wednesday and resulted in the Jaguars’ first loss of the season.
In its first game at James Brown Arena in 17 seasons, No. 12 Augusta State came out flat and watched No. 20 Lincoln Memorial roll to a 67-53 win in front of a crowd of 1,553 fans.
“The arena was good,” Jaguars junior forward Harold Doby said. “The turnout was bad for us on our end.”
Augusta State (6-1), coming off a tough conference win Monday night over Montevallo, led just once four minutes into the game, suffering its worst loss since a 22-point defeat last season at USC Aiken. The Jaguars, who spent the evening taking myriad forced shots, were as cold as the ice underneath the floor, shooting 27 percent, making back-to-back buckets just twice in the contest.
Freshman backup point guard Josh Samuels came off the bench to tie Doby (3 for 10 shooting) with a team-high 11 points. Devon Wright-Nelson added 10 points on 4 for 12 shooting.
Augusta State’s top two leading scorers, Devonte Thomas and Ryan Weems, entered averaging a combined 29 points a game. The pair shot 1 for 12 from the floor for six points.
Center Chad July, the highly-coveted offseason transfer, continued his poor shooting. He went 1 for 8 from the floor, lowering his field goal shooting to 25 percent on the season.
Augusta State won the rebounding battle, 51-42, grabbing 25 offensive boards. Even then, the Jaguars scored just 16 second-chance points against a Lincoln Memorial defense that clogged up the lane.
“We did a pretty good job of not allowing so many of those offensive rebounds to be finished at the rim,” Railsplitters coach Josh Schertz said. “We made them shoot contested shots. I think our length bothered them.”
Because of the final Augusta State graduation today at Christenberry Fieldhouse, the game got moved downtown. A crowd that filled most of the lower bowl on both sides never really got into it, because of Lincoln Memorial’s fast start.Travis Keels swished a 10-foot baseline jumper to stake Augusta State to a 9-8 lead, but the Jaguars failed to build any momentum.
The Railsplitters (8-1) responded with a 15-5 lead, capped by a Jake Troyli 3-pointer from the top of the key. Lincoln Memorial led 23-14 and later went into intermission up 12.
Augusta State pulled within eight early in the second half.
Yet the Railsplitters responded with an 11-3 run fueled by Troyli’s seven points. Troyli led all scorers with 24 points.
“The better team won tonight,” Doby said. “I don’t think we came out ready to compete. They punched us first and we got down and never could fight back.”
Said Metress: “This is a learning experience. Some of the things we did wrong today, we had done wrong in a couple of games. They were lessons learned without getting burned. We got burned tonight. I didn’t think we’d play this poorly.”