March 25, 2009

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass – Augusta State (30-4) overcame the second largest halftime deficit in Elite Eight history en route to a 70-62 quarterfinal victory versus Christian Brothers University today at the Mass Mutual Center.

The Jaguars will now meet the Cal Poly Pomona (23-7)/Southwest Minnesota State (28-6) winner in a national semifinal game tomorrow. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Augusta State trailed 32-18 at intermission, but shot 62.5 percent (15-for-24) from the floor and held Christian Brothers (21-6) to 20.0 percent (2-for-10) shooting from the arc throughout the final 20 minutes to run their win streak to 16 games. The Jaguars also generated a 31-17 advantage on the boards, including an 18-5 margin the second stanza, and helped themselves by canning 84.6 percent (22-for-26) of their free throws.

Junior guard Ben Madgen scored 12 of his 16 points after halftime and pulled down six rebounds to lead Augusta State. Junior forward Fred Brathwaite added 15 points, while fellow junior forward Caleb Brown finished with 12 points and four rebounds throughout 22 minutes of reserve duty.

Senior guard Reggie Peyton had a game-high 20 points and senior center Nick Kohs tossed in 15 for the Buccaneers.

Augusta State put itself in business by opening the second period with a 16-5 run that made it a one possession game, 37-34, with 12:36 remaining. Brathwaite converted a layup to ignite the jaunt. Brown then finished inside and Madgen knocked down a jumper to cap it.

“We knew Christian Brothers runs a similar offense to Princeton and we struggled with that in the first half, but in the second half we worked hard to free up our shooters and we focused on attacking them defensively,” said Augusta State head coach Dip Metress.

Two minutes after the initial outburst, Madgen converted a three-point play to tie it, 42-42, for the first time since a 4-4 deadlock in the game’s opening moments. Christian Brothers regained its advantage on two more occasions, but 7-0 senior center Garret Siler scored in the paint out of a timeout and senior guard Steve Smith drained a jumper to put the Jaguars in front to stay, 49-46, with 6:45 to go. They then went 12-for-14 from the foul line during the final 3:40 to a punch a ticket to their second consecutive national semifinal game.

“The experience of last year certainly helped,” said Metress. “The more you advance, the better off you are. Winning that first game in this tournament is always the toughest. Our shots weren’t falling in the first half, but I think our experience showed through in the second.”

The opening stanza was a different story as Christian Brothers outscored Augusta State 17-4 during an eight-minute span that transformed a 5-4 deficit into a 21-9 advantage with 6:23 left. Augusta State brought it back to within 10 on three occasions, but the Buccaneers held the Jaguars scoreless throughout the final 2:29 to go in the locker room up 14 at the break.