A pesky Georgia College & State team refused to bow down Friday to conference champion Augusta State. But the Jaguars, with superior firepower, flexed its muscle when it needed to late.
Ben Madgen scored 20, Tyrekus Bowman added 19 and the No. 17 Jaguars pulled away for a 91-82 win in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Finis Horne Arena.
"We're just glad to get a win," Augusta State coach Dip Metress said. "Overall, I'm pleased. We had a long time after two losses and we bounced back."
The Jaguars advance to play No. 25 Clayton State at 6 p.m. today in the semifinals. This will be their third top-25 matchup of the season. The schools split during the regular season, with the Lakers snapping Augusta State's 14-game winning streak with a 70-68 win last week.
"We're going to come out and establish ourselves and play Augusta State basketball and we're going to win the game," Bowman predicted.
Metress, who jokingly called his junior forward Nostradamus, said his team will take a different approach against Clayton State this time around.
"They sped us up last time," he said. "The first eight minutes we took too many jump shots. That's not going to happen again. We learned from that."
Augusta State returned to the court for the first time in six days. The Jaguars shot 57 percent from the field as they improved to 23-5 overall. They now have the second-most wins in school history and are four victories shy of matching the 1969-70 team that went 27-3.
Augusta State dominated the boards, winning the rebounding battle, 41-26. Center Garret Siler, who scored 14 on 6 of 6 shooting, grabbed a game-high 13 boards. Bowman added seven rebounds.
The Jaguars also dominated on the offensive side of the ball, shooting 31-for-37 inside the arc.
"They beat us pretty bad on the boards," Bobcats coach Terry Sellers said. "We just couldn't stop them. We couldn't defend them. Our guys were trying. The effort was there."
Georgia College & State (19-10) posed a tough quarterfinal opponent. Though the Bobcats got swept by Augusta State in January, they ended the regular season with a last-second win at Clayton State.
The Jaguars led by three at halftime, but the lead switched hands five times right after intermission. Madgen's bank shot gave Augusta State a 58-57 lead. Daniel Dixon followed with a layup after missing a 3-pointer and out-hustling three Bobcats defenders for the rebound.
With Bowman and Siler on the bench with foul trouble, Madgen scored five in a row. Demetrius Howard added a 3-pointer to give Augusta State a seven-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The inside-out duo of center Aaron Clark and guard Aaron Gibbs kept Georgia College & State in the game. Clark scored 29 on 12-for-18 shooting, while Gibbs hit seven 3-pointers for 23 points.
Clark's 12-foot jumper with five minutes left pulled the Bobcats within six. But the Bobcats soon ran out of juice.
Howard responded with a layup. Siler added two free throws. Bowman knocked down another and the Jaguars led 79-68.
Siler blocked Graham Martin's attempt on the other end. Bowman got the kick-out pass and broke free for a one-handed slam, his only dunk of the contest. The basket sent the Blue Crew into a frenzy as Augusta State went ahead 81-68 with 2:51 remaining.
"They answered the call and did what they had to to win the game," Sellers said. "That's what really good teams do. I think we made them play. I don't think it was a walk in the park."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GEORGIA COLLEGE & STATE (19-10)-Aaron Gibbs 7-17 2-3 23, Aaron Clark 12-18 3-5 29, Graham Martin 2-6 1-2 5, Shejdie Childs 2-6 3-4 7, Shaun Keaton 5-16 0-0 14, Ken Kemp 1-1 0-0 2, Levert Carter 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 30-66 9-14 82.
AUGUSTA STATE (23-5)-Ben Madgen 7-15 6-8 20, Tyrekus Bowman 8-10 2-4 19, Garret Siler 6-6 2-3 14, Daniel Dixon 3-10 0-0 7, Steve Smith 4-9 0-0 9, Demetrius Howard 2-3 0-0 5, Etsho Ilunga 1-1 0-0 2, Luke Tambon 1-1 0-0 2, Kip Small 3-6 4-4 10, Jamie Quarles 0-0 0-0 0, Howard Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Arthur Thomas 0-0 3-4 3. Totals: 35-61 17-23 91.
HALFTIME: Augusta State 45-42 3-point goals: GCSU 13-38 (Gibbs 7-15, Clark 2-3, Martin 0-4, Childs 0-2, Keaton 4-14), Augusta State 4-24 (Madgen 0-6, Dixon 1-7, Bowman 1-1, Smith 1-6, Howard 1-2, Small 0-2). Rebounds: GCSU 26 (Clark 6), Augusta State 41 (Siler 13). Assists: GCSU 24 (Childs 12), Augusta State 18 (Madgen, Howard, Small 4). Turnovers: GCSU 10, Augusta State 14. Fouls: GCSU 18, Augusta State 18. Fouled out: Bowman, Childs. A-266.
WHO: No. 17 Augusta State vs. No. 25 Clayton State
WHEN: 6 tonight
WHERE: Lander University
JAGUARS BY THE NUMBERS
41 - Total rebounds; the Bobcats had 26
6 - Shots missed inside the arc on 37 tries
4 - Wins from matching school's best record