Jaguars start ’19 with a convincing win over Clayton State

Aaron Byrd drives for two of his 12 points during Augusta University’s game with Clayton State. (photo by Khadijah Sandifer)

By Leeroy Francis Jr. |
Sports editor

Behind seniors Deane Williams, Tyvez Monroe and Aaron Byrd, the Augusta University men’s basketball team defeated Clayton State 101-66 on Saturday, Jan. 5, at Christenberry Fieldhouse. With the win, the Jaguars improve to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Peach Belt Conference heading into their Wednesday, Jan. 9, matchup against the Flagler College (5-5 overall, 2-2 in the PBC).

In Saturday’s game, the Jaguars started the new year hot from the tip going on a quick 10-2 run to begin the game. Monroe, who had been slowed by an injury, and junior Rafael Monteiro led the way, scoring 12 of the team’s first 14 points in the first six minutes of the game. In that run, Monroe had eight points and Monteiro had four points and one assist.

While down early in the contest, Clayton State tried its best to keep the game within reach, but the Jaguars extended their first-half lead to as much at 17 with 5:32 before the half at 38-21. After a three-point shot by freshman guard Miguel Arnold, Clayton State fought its way back into the game with a 14-2 run to cut the Jaguar lead to 40-35 with 1:48 left in the first half.

After the Lakers’ run the, Jaguars didn’t allow another point from the visitors the last 1:48 and finished the half on an 8-0 run for a 48-35 halftime lead. Before the buzzer, freshman forward Robert Barlund tapped in a missed jumper by Williams.

Monroe and Williams came out hot in the first half. Monroe finished the half with 11 points in 13 minutes of action, and Williams added nine points, three rebounds and two assists.

In the second half, the Jaguars were firing on all cylinders offensively and defensively. The second half remained fairly even for a while as Clayton State cut the Jaguar lead to only 10 with 16:13 left in the game, but that would be the closest the Lakers would be the remainder of the contest. From 16:13 to 5:56 (9 minutes, 17 seconds), the Jaguars would go on their most dominating stretch this season, outscoring the Lakers 30-10 to push their lead to 30.

Outscoring Clayton State by 22 points and holding the visiting Lakers to only 31 second-half points, the Jaguars cruised to the 35-point victory.

Jaguars’ Coach Dip Metress made an adjustment on offense during the winter break, and it paid immediate dividends for his team.

“Technically, on the break, we freed them up a little bit,” Metress said. “My agreement was, ‘You guard and then you play with a little freedom the other way.’ I haven’t played that way in a long time, but that’s what is best for this team.”

As a result, AU shot well, 60 percent from the field and 57 from the three-point line and was in command the entire game. The Jags also had the upper hand on the boards, grabbing 38 to just 24 by the Lakers (1-4, 4-6).

Metress was also satisfied with the way the Jaguars took care of the ball. They had just nine turnovers, compared to 16 for the Lakers.

Williams led the Jaguars with 21 points and added five rebounds and four assists. Monteiro carded 18 points, Monroe had 17, Byrd 12 and sophomore Troy Cracknell 10 for the Jaguars.

“When you have 11, 12 or 13 deep, it’s easy to be a threat because there are so many distractions and you can’t concentrate on one player,” Williams said. “Whenever I get doubled or pressured, I can throw the ball to a teammate.”

Monroe was enthusiastic about the change on offense.

“Coach Metress is very strict on how he wants his stuff done, but he’s let us go a bit on offense and that’s why we are looking better,” Monroe said.

Monteiro had another outstanding night in the post. He made 9-of-10 shots from the floor and grabbed five rebounds. Byrd also shot very well, making 5 of 7 from the field and both free throws.

Eleven players who recorded minutes scored in the contest. Augusta has broken 100 points twice this season.

“I really feel excited about the Peach Belt race,” Byrd said. “We have to respect every opponent, whether they have a winning or lose record. In this conference, you are liable to be beaten by anyone.”

For Clayton State, the leading scorer was JaCarl Owens with 16 points and six rebounds and Kyle Kincey added in 13 points, five rebounds and four assists in the contest.

In the women’s game, Clayton State posted a 73-51 win over AU. The Lakers (2-2, 6-4) were led by Madison Newby with 16 points and Aleisha Merriweather with 14 points.

Augusta freshman Asia Harrison led Augusta (0-3, 1-8) with 11 points, four steals, and two assists. Junior Cameryn Wilson put up nine points with five steals and two rebounds and senior Brianna Middleton scored eight with seven rebounds.

Both AU teams resume PBC action on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with a home matchup against Flagler College. Women will tip off at 5:30 p.m. and the men at 7:30.

Deane Williams goes up for a shot against Clayton State; he led the Jaguars with 21 points. (photo by Khadijah Sandifer)

 

Contact Leeroy Francis at lfrancis@augusta.edu

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