Originally created 03/07/03

Augusta State suffers upset



COLUMBUS, Ga. - After Augusta State's 61-55 overtime loss to Francis Marion on Thursday night, senior forward Sabrina Jones spoke as through her career might be over.

She'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

"If this is my last game, I'm satisfied," Jones said. "We've had a good year."

Despite taking 21 more shots than the Lady Patriots, North No. 1 seed Augusta State went 22-for-74 from the field (30 percent). The North Division champion Lady Jaguars made just one field goal in overtime as Francis Marion, seeded fifth in the North division, pulled off the Peach Belt Tournament quarterfinal upset at the Lumpkin Center.

Augusta State's fate will be determined Sunday, when at-large teams are picked for the 64-team Division II Tournament. Meanwhile, Francis Marion (12-17) will face South No. 2 seed Columbus State (26-2) in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday.

"If we're not deserving, I'd like to know who's more deserving," said fourth-year Augusta State coach Greg Wilson, who is 0-4 in the conference tournament. "We've played a tough schedule. I think we've answered the call. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Augusta State (19-9), which twice defeated Francis Marion in the regular season, trailed 48-41 with 6:07 remaining. Senior center Arijana Sijercic, who led the Lady Jaguars with 17 points and 10 rebounds, hit the offensive glass and scored seven straight points.

After a Sijercic putback, Jones made two free throws to trim the deficit to two. Ernesia Wideman popped an 8-foot jumper to knot the game at 53 with 1:20 remaining.

Jontell Johnson dominated the Lady Jaguars, scoring 19 points with 12 rebounds and six blocks, but her missed jumper with 30 seconds left gave Augusta State a chance to win in regulation.

Wideman brought the ball down and let the clock run down to six seconds before starting an isolation play. Her off-balance runner from the free-throw line came up short.

"When you wait as long as we did to start the play, it nullifies your secondary options," Wilson said. "We were supposed to start the play with 10 seconds left, but we didn't start it until six. It just wasn't good execution. I don't know why, the clock was right there in front of us."

The Lady Jaguars missed eight of nine shots in the extra period, shots not close to drawing nylon. Even a Wideman jumper inside the lane flew over the backboard.

Wideman and Jones each went 2-for-11 from the field.

"We were dead tired, and we knew it," Wilson said. "I thought we were dragging a bit toward the end of regulation."