Augusta State lit up North Florida with 55 percent shooting and annihilated the Ospreys for a 93-50 homecoming victory at the ASU athletic complex Saturday night.
The win, coupled with USC Aiken's 66-63 loss at Armstrong Atlantic State, gives the Jaguars sole possession of first place in the Peach Belt Conference North Division with four games left.
In the women's game, the Lady Ospreys dominated play inside the paint and knocked off the Lady Jaguars 74-60.
"I've been disappointed before by these guys, but I'm real proud of them tonight," Jaguars coach Gary Tuell said. "They played hard. And I hope they can keep it going, because they need to. I felt like the last two years, we were good enough to be in the Elite Eight. And I think this team is definitely good enough to be in the Elite Eight. But to get there you have to play like this every night. You can't play like the little sisters of the poor one night and play like the Lakers the next."
Augusta State broke the team record for 3-point percentage, shooting 68 percent (13-of-19) against the Ospreys. The Jaguars also tied the 1976 record for assists in a game with 28.
Augusta out-rebounded the league's best rebounding team 38-24, while holding North Florida to 37 percent shooting from the floor.
"This is one of those rare games where everybody had it going," Tuell said. "We just can't play much better than that. And we played two halves. I think that's the first time all year this group has played for 40 minutes."
The Jaguars opened the game with a 9-0 run. Festus Hawkins swished a fade-away jumper. Russell Hinder followed with a jumper. Marcus Gradney canned a 3-pointer. Chris Harriman scored on a layup. Augusta State led by 15 at the 9:53 mark.
A T.J. Ott layup late in the half gave the Jaguars a 51-20 lead just before halftime. Ott scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the first half as Augusta stormed to a 29-point lead at the break.
The misery continued for North Florida in the second half. Gary Boodnikoff converted a three-point play. Hawkins tipped in an offensive rebound. Then Jayme Johnson hit a floater that gave the Jaguars a 61-25 lead with 17:22 remaining.
"We knew they were a good team because they had lost to Armstrong Atlantic by one or two points," Ott said. "We knew we were going to have to bring our best game. We were focused and ready to go."
Hawkins scored 19 points, while Hinder added 18. North Florida's Koran Godwin scored 14 points, eight points below his conference-leading 22.1 points per game.
The Lady Ospreys (12-10, 6-6) outrebounded Augusta 39-27. Also, North Florida scored 18 of its 30 buckets inside the paint.
"I know they're a good team," Wilson said. "I've said that all along. And they're getting stronger down the stretch."
Krystal Edwards knocked down from a 3-pointer from the right wing to put the Lady Jaguars (12-10, 5-7) up 16-15. But North Florida controlled the final 12 minutes of the half.
Auriel Henry grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the putback to give the Lady Ospreys a 13-point lead with 1:50 left before the break. North Florida retained that lead as it went into halftime up 46-33.
Gaudy led the Lady Ospreys with 19 points, while Erin Cooke added 17. Faith Nixon scored 19 for the Lady Jaguars.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.
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