Coach: Jaguars to play at home regional

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Before any questions could be asked Saturday night, Augusta State coach Dip Metress stated what he perceived as obvious.

After the Jaguars' Peach Belt Conference tournament semifinal loss to Clayton State, Metress announced his school would be holding its first ever Division II Tournament regional. This before the NCAA officially announced the eight region hosts late Sunday evening.

Metress had plenty of reason to be certain. First, Augusta State led the region poll the last month of the regular season.

Metress' stance was supported when Virginia Union of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the region's No. 2 team, lost in its conference tournament championship game. The No. 3 team in the region, Armstrong Atlantic State, fell in the Peach Belt tournament semifinals, just as Augusta State had.

"It's no secret," Metress said Saturday night. "We're hosting the regionals."

Augusta State's Christenberry Fieldhouse is expected to hold the eight-team regional, which begins Saturday. Four games will be held that day. The semifinals will be held Sunday. The regional championship will be held Tuesday.

The winner of the regional will advance to the Elite Eight, held March 21-24, in Springfield, Mass.

The regional will be comprised of five at-large teams and winners of the CIAA, Peach Belt and South Atlantic Conference tournaments.

Lander grabbed the Peach Belt Conference's automatic bid with its 14-point win over Clayton State in the tournament championship game on Sunday.

Wingate earned the SAC's automatic bid with its 97-82 win Sunday over Catawba in the tournament finals.

Elizabeth City State entered the CIAA Tournament with a 12-15 record but won four games in four days, knocking off Virginia Union, 73-70, in the championship game.

Augusta State, Virginia Union, Clayton State and Armstrong Atlantic State are expected to grab at-large bids with the final bid going to either Virginia State, Presbyterian, Catawba or Saint Augustine's.

The Jaguars are making their first trip to the Division II Tournament since 2002, and they're seeking their second postseason victory.

Augusta State won 14 games in a row during the regular season before dropping three of its past four.

The Jaguars own a significant home-court advantage. In three seasons with Metress at the helm, Augusta State is 30-6 at Christenberry Fieldhouse, including 10-1 at home this season.

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or chris.gay@augustachronicle.com.


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