After winning three consecutive Peach Belt Conference games, Augusta State was looking to avenge a semifinal loss in last year's conference tournament to USC Upstate.
It was a different time, but the same result Saturday night, as the Spartans outlasted the Jaguars, 77-64, in a matchup that had 10 lead changes.
"I knew it was going to be an intense game, and it was a well-fought, clean game. Both teams battled tonight," Jaguars coach Dip Metress said.
The final lead of the contest for Augusta State (7-8, 3-5) came with 8:25 remaining in the second half, as the Jaguars were riding the momentum of a 3-pointer from Matt Scott, who finished with 16 points.
It proved to be the turning point, however, as USC Upstate (11-3, 6-2) forced crucial turnovers and converted them into points on the offensive end down the stretch.
Spartans guard Luke Payne finished 17-for-18 from the free-throw line and notched a game-high 21 points, but sixth man Daniel Quinlan was arguably the most clutch Spartan on the night.
He knocked down three 3-point attempts late in the second half, including a 30-footer that took the wind out of the Jaguars' sails.
"When I'm in there, (coach) lets me do whatever," Quinlan said. "I was pretty comfortable."
In typical fashion, Tyrekus Bowman took over the game early for Augusta State, providing one of his most dominating performances as a Jaguar on both ends of the court.
"The team kind of needs me for energy, so I tried to spread it out, offensively and defensively," said Bowman, who finished 9-for-11 from the field, putting up 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
"The team had a lot of confidence in me, so in return I had a lot of confidence in myself."
Unfortunately for Augusta State, Bowman's energy went against the team late in the contest. He was whistled for an intentional foul with just under a minute to go, when his team was trying to foul to stop the clock.
The call brought a second technical foul on the bench, forcing the ejection of Metress and marking the end of a final comeback attempt.
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