ASU defeats GCSU, will play in title game

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Saturday, March 7, 2009.

AIKEN, S.C. – Top-seeded Augusta State survived a last-minute scare from fourth-seeded Georgia College & State University Saturday evening, but held off the Bobcats and advanced to Sunday’s Peach Belt Conference championship game with a 79-74 semifinal win at USC Aiken’s Convocation Center.

Inbounding the ball after GCSU’s Ken Kemp made two free throws to cut ASU’s lead to 75-74 with 29.1 seconds left in the game, Augusta State’s Steve Smith fired a court-length pass to Fred Brathwaite, who dunked the ball and gave the victory to the Jags. Ben Madgen’s two free throws closed out the scoring.

Augusta State, who is ranked fifth nationally and improves to 25-4, will face the winner of USC Aiken/Armstrong Atlantic in Sunday’s 4:30 p.m. championship game. The champion earns the PBC’s automatic berth into the national tournament.

Madgen led ASU with 18 points, while Brathwaite added a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Dixon had 14 points and Garret Siler 12. ASU will make their first PBC finals appearance since 2002.

Georgia College (22-6) was led by Shaun Keaton and Ken Kemp, who scored 20 and 19 points respectively. Ty Rowland added 12 points in the loss, while Josh Hurst led the Bobcats in rebounds with seven.

The Jaguars, who shot 60.7 percent in the first half, streaked out to a 9-2 lead in the first 2:10 of the game behind the shooting of Madgen, Siler and Smith and stretched the margin to 13-5 at 16:16 when Madgen hit the first of two free throws after GCSU coach Terry Sellers was charged with a technical foul.

GCSU, which never led in the game, bounced back when Keaton sank two free throws and Kemp and Rowland each hit threes to pull the Bobcats within one point at 15-14 with 14:21 left.

Brathwaite gave the Jags their first double-digit lead at 29-19 on a tip-in with 9:22 remaining. GCSU cut the lead to 31-27 at 6:37 on a Keaton three pointer then trimmed it to 37-36 at 4:12 on Kemp’s three from the right side. Dixon hit a three at the buzzer to give ASU a 44-39 halftime lead.

Siler got the Jags out quickly in the second half when his free throw and field goal gave them a 48-39 lead at 18:27. ASU got its first double-digit lead of the half at 17:08 when Brathwaite’s field goal made it 52-42. The Bobcats scored six unanswered points to cut the lead to 69-66 on Keaton’s two free throws at 6:14 then got it down to 71-69 on Keaton’s three with 5:49 left.

But the Jags roared right a back out to a 75-69 lead when Madgen hit a three at 5:23 and the front end of a one-and-one at 3:51.

ASU connected on 29-of-54 field goals for 53.7 percent, including 8-of-23 three pointers for 34.8 percent. The Jags also made 13-of-18 free throws for 72.2 percent.

GCSU was 19-of-51 from the field for 37.3 percent, including 13-of-36 from the three-point line for 36.1 percent. The Bobcats sank 23-of-29 foul shots for 79.3 percent.