The Augusta University men’s basketball team’s season came to an end Sunday as the Jags lost 84-77 to the University of South Carolina Aiken in the NCAA Regional Semifinals at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
The Jaguars went into Sunday’s game on a two-game losing streak versus USC Aiken. The Pacers won both regular season meetings.
AU and USCA have played each other 29 times since 2010, and the Jaguars led the series 17-12 going into Sunday’s matchup.
Even though the game was hosted by Augusta, both Pacers and Jaguar fans were loud as their home floors are only separated by a little under 20 miles.
The Pacers outperformed the Jaguars early, getting out to a 21-6 lead with 10:38 left in the first half.
Led by 10 points and three steals from AU sophomore Ja’Queze Kirby, the Jaguars cut the Pacers lead to 38-29 going into the second half.
USCA guard Tyler Johnson led the Pacers in the first half going 6-6 from the field with 13 points in the first half. Overall, the Pacers shot an efficient 65% in the first half.
While senior Miguel Arnold and graduate student Tyree Myers weren’t as aggressive and efficient in the first half, they helped bring the Jaguars within five points late in the second half of the game.
Arnold finished with 17 points, while Myers led the Jaguars with 20.
Despite late foul trouble, senior Tyshaun Crawford finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Jags’ Coach Dip Metress said it was a heartbreaking loss for his team.
“My senior class are really torn up. They won 115 games in their career, I think. It’s tough to go out on your home floor like this,” he said.
During the post-game press conference, Metress praised the seniors — Crawford, Myers, Arnold and Darren Lucas-White.
“Give Aiken credit, but the focus should be on — we got four guys that are really good players, and I hate to see their career end like that,” Metress said.
The Pacers did what they have done all season and dominated the glass. The Pacers out rebounded AU 34-22 to advance and get the semifinal win.
“We did a good job tonight taking advantage of a couple of things we thought we could expose, and we just kept battling,” said USC Aiken Head Coach Mark Vanderslice. “Beating a team three times is tough, especially at their place, but a lot of respect for the coach and their program.”
USCA will play Lincoln Memorial in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, at the Christenberry Fieldhouse.