Big Second Half Lifts Braves Past No. 12 Augusta State
PEMBROKE – Home-standing UNCP rallied back from a 10-point deficit in the second half with lock-down defense and a big shooting effort from the field to register its 10th-straight home victory with a 70-64 upset victory over No. 12 Augusta State on Saturday evening in the English E. Jones Center.
The triumph gave the Braves (9-5, 2-2 PBC) consecutive wins over Augusta State (7-3, 3-1) for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, while also handing the Jaguars the third loss in their last four outings. The victory extended UNCP's home winning skein – a run that began with a 59-58 upset over the Jaguars last season – out to a league-best 10 games.
Shahmel Brackett canned a career-high five 3-pointers en route to a game-best 23 points, while fellow senior George Blakeney turned in his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Redshirt freshman Quamain Rose added 11 points for the hosts as well. Ryan Weems tallied a team-best 14 points for Augusta State, while D'Angelo Boyce chipped in 13.
UNCP posted a 41-32 advantage in the rebounding column – the 10th-straight game and the 12th time this season the Braves have out-rebounded their opponent. The Braves finished the game shooting just 37.9 percent from the field, but exhibited a 48.3 percent success rate in the second half.
"We had a hard time getting it out of second gear in the first half, but we really cranked it up in the second half," said UNCP head coach Ben Miller. "Our defense got a little better as the game went on. We aren't there yet, but we can be a really good defensive team. As the game went on, our guys started adjusting to things that they were doing. It was really a great team effort for us."
The Braves took their first lead of the second half, 47-46, on Rose's jumper with 9:17 to play, but Augusta State used a 9-2 scoring spurt in the latter stages of the game to push its lead out to 58-51 after a free throw by Devonte Thomas at the 5:50 mark. A fastbreak jumper by Rose four seconds later, coupled with five-straight points by Brackett over the next 24 seconds would tie the game for the sixth time.
Down 63-62 with 3:17 remaining, the hosts took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Brackett with 2:35 left, and then used a block by Blakeney on the following possession, as well as clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, to seal the deal.
UNCP scored nine of the game's first 13 points to grab the early momentum, but Boyce's layup with 8:56 left before the break broke a 16-16 tie and sparked the visitors on a 13-3 run that allowed them to grab a 29-19 advantage on Devon Wright-Nelson's layup at the 1:42 mark. The Braves would score the final four points of the half to take just a 29-23 deficit into the locker rooms.
UNCP will close out its three-game home stand with a pair of intra-divisional matchups next weekend. The Braves will welcome Columbus State (6-5, 1-3) on Saturday before suiting up to battle Georgia Southwestern (6-5, 2-2) on Sunday. Both games will fall in the back end of 1:30 p.m. doubleheaders in the English E. Jones Center.
To watch the full game click PART 1 or PART 2.