Augusta St. runs past UNCP
Ndongo's 25 points leads Jaguars to First Round victory
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Franck Ndongo racked up game highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds and George Johnson added 22 points to lead top-seeded Augusta State to an 80-66 victory against eighth-seeded UNC Pembroke in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
O'Neal Armstrong chipped in 14 points and six assists for Augusta State (29-3), which advances to Sunday's 7:30 p.m. semifinal against the winner of the Queens-Limestone quarterfinal. Shahmel Brackett scored 14 points for UNC Pembroke (18-12), which lost to Augusta State for the fourth time this season.
UNCP pulled within three points on a pair of free throws by Chris Hargrove with 13:52 to play, but Johnson answered with consecutive steals and fastbreak layups to stretch Augusta State's lead to 47-40. The teams traded baskets for the next several minutes before a three-pointer by Brackett closed the gap to four, 58-54, at the 6:24 mark.
But the Braves would get no closer against the Jaguars, who committed only seven turnovers all night and managed the clock effectively in the final minutes. ASU's Tye Beal drained a jump shot just before the shot clock expired to give Augusta State a 65-56 lead with 2:26 remaining, and the Jaguars milked the shot clock again before Ndongo's jumper in the lane made it 67-59 with 1:33 to play.
Armstrong stole the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws to push Augusta State's lead to double digits, 71-61. The Jaguars shot only 63 percent from the free throw line (17-27), but converted nine of 11 from the charity stripe in the final 1:13 to seal the win. Ndongo hit four free throws in the closing seconds to set a new career high with 25 points.
Ndongo scored the game's first six points as Augusta State raced to a 10-0 lead in the opening four minutes. UNC Pembroke needed nearly six minutes to score its first points, but rallied to pull within 19-17 before Johnson hit a three-pointer to stretch the gap to five. Moments later Johnson added another trey, his school-record 91st of the season, on his way to 13 first-half points.
Ndongo already had his eighth double-double of the season at halftime, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Back-to-back baskets by Ndongo and a three-pointer by Caleb Brown gave Augusta State its biggest lead of the first half, 38-26, before a three-pointer by UNC Pembroke's Marcus Heath closed the gap back to single digits at halftime.
Augusta State shot 49.1 percent (28-57) from the field and out-rebounded UNC Pembroke 40-29 in winning its 48th consecutive home game, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation. The Jaguars are now 11-1 in NCAA Tournament games in Augusta over the last four seasons.