AIKEN, S.C. -- Junior Devon Wright-Nelson answered Anderson's game-tying 3-pointer on a layup with five seconds left to give the GRU Augusta Jaguars an 86-84 win in the opening game for the Jags in the NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday night in the Convocation Center.
The Jags improved to 24-7 with the postseason win and advance to the 7:30 p.m. semifinal game tomorrow night against Peach Belt Conference rival South Carolina Aiken. The Jags handed the USCA Pacers their most recent loss on Feb. 1 with a 97-84 win in Aiken.
Anderson (22-10) senior guard Chandler Hash, who racked up 42 against the Jags on Nov. 10 in Christenberry Fieldhouse, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 84-all with 17 seconds remaining. No team called for a timeout as the Jags marched down the court and found a wide open Wright-Nelson, who kissed the glass with a layup to steal an 86-84 game.
Seven seconds into the game, Hash made his first trey, but got into early foul trouble as GRU took over. Building a steady lead, the Jaguars climbed 12-3 with a Ryan Weems trey at the 15-minute mark. AU nailed 3-pointers in back-to-back possessions to steal a 14-12 lead. Both teams answered point-for-point from the charity stripe leading to a 24-all tie. Devonte Thomas' 3-pointer gave a slight advantage to GRU, but AU cut it to one with 1:37 to go after two offensive GRU fouls. CJ Gleaton hit two Trojans free throws to take a 39-38 lead, their first since the 9:15 mark.
Down by a bucket, Devon Wright-Nelson found D'Angelo Boyce on the perimeter for him to hit the seventh 3-pointer for the Jags in the first half. At the break, GRU held a 43-39 advantage despite getting to the free-throw line twice. Weems had 11 at the pause, while Gleaton had 12 for AU.
AU made it a one-basket affair twice, but Wright-Nelson made a three before he banked a one-handed jumper off the glass to give GRU their second biggest lead of the night, up eight. The Jags got a bit trigger happy, missing five consecutive treys for AU to cut it to four with 8:36 remaining. Weems was knocked down on a three attempt and made all of them at the charity stripe for his 17th points. Wright-Nelson's second 3-pointer made it 71-65, but Hash hit his third from downtown for a 71-68 score.
Hash and Weems traded 3-pointers and Wright-Nelson, with a hand in his face, hit a deep one from the corner to rebuild a seven-point advantage. Both teams combined for 24 3-pointers (12 each) in the game, with the Jags shooting 42.9 from the arc and AU 46.2. With a 79-76 lead, Wright-Nelson grabbed an offensive board on a missed free throw and took the foul, resulting in two points for GRU. Myson Jones hit a desperation three with 37 seconds left for a one-point game, but Jaguar free throws put them up 84-81. Hash made it interesting when he made his fifth 3-pointer to tie the game with GRU's KJ Sherrill putting two hands in his face.
The Jags would find Wright-Nelson at the end of the floor to end the Trojans' season. Wright-Nelson led all scorers with 28 points, matching his second-career best performance. Weems added 22 and Doby put up eight points with 10 rebounds. Gleaton scored 24 for AU while Hash and Jones each totaled 21.