Jags bounce back with blowout win over UNG, ending two-game losing streak

Rafael Monteiro goes up for two of his 24 points in the Jaguars’ victory over North Georgia. (photo by Carlos Rodriguez)

By Carlos Rodriguez |
Sports writer

The Augusta University men’s basketball team defeated the University of North Georgia Nighthawks 83-58 Wednesday night, Jan. 22, at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

In the first half, sophomore Darren Lucas-White put the Jaguars on the board first after making a pullup two-point jumper with 18:41 remaining in the half. Lucas-White was a new addition in the starting lineup in this game.

“We started Darren to give us some energy defensively,” said AU Coach Dip Metress. “He gave us an unbelievable spark, and his energy led to everybody else playing hard defensively.”

White’s bucket was the start of Augusta’s 11-0 run to open the game up, in which the Jags scored on five straight possessions, ending with senior Rafael Monteiro making a jumper with 16 minutes left. At 15:35 the Nighthawks ended Augusta’s run when freshman Darnell Snyers hit a three to give them their first points of the game. UNG continued to put up points cutting down Augusta’s lead to 18-13 after KJ Jenkins knocked down a three-pointer with 11:26 remaining. Junior Troy Cracknell stretched AU’s lead to eight after hitting a three-pointer with 8:25 remaining as they Jags led 22-14.

Despite being down 11-0 in the beginning of the half, with 2:21 remaining in the half UNG rallied to tie things up at 26 after senior Zez Steeple made a jump shot.

AU sophomore Tyshaun Crawford quickly answered the next possession down, converting on an and-one layup and hitting the free throw to give the Jags a 29-26 lead with under two minutes to play. Crawford also knocked down another layup in the final minute giving the Jaguars a 34-26 lead heading into halftime. Monteiro and Crawford led Augusta at the half with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

“I think I took better shots this game,” said Monteiro. “They were playing man to man and I was able to find my spot.”

Cracknell quickly scored for the Jaguars in the opening possession of the second half, giving them a 36-26 lead. The second half was a dominant performance for Augusta as the Jags continued to increase their lead and create separation.

After four minutes of play in the half, Augusta had got out to a 52-28 lead after sophomore Tyree Myers connected on a shot. With 11:06 remaining, Monteiro confused his defender with a spin move, freeing him up for an open layup to give AU a 63-36 lead. With 9:21 remaining, Monteiro struck again with a jump hook giving the Jags a 29-point lead of 68-39, their biggest lead of the game.

“The dilemma we have right now is Tyshaun scores inside, Rafael scores inside, and they kind of get in each other’s way down there,“ said Metress. “We made it an effort to get Rafael more touches.”

With 4:23 remaining UNG cut AU’s lead to 75-56 after senior Tyler Dean drilled a three. Freshman Anthony Torelli threw down a dunk that had the crowd fired up, putting Augusta up 81-56 with 2:24 remaining. Jags would go on to secure an 83-58 win.

“We were physically better inside and we were beating them inside,” said Metress.

Monteiro had a positive view of the offense’s performance.

“We played better on offense as team,” said Monteiro. “We moved the ball a lot and freed up everyone. Defense was really good, we knew their personnel so we played to their weaknesses.”

Monteiro led AU with a double-double scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Crawford and Cracknell added 14 and 12 points, respectively, and off the bench Arnold added 10 points.

Augusta improves to 11-6 overall and 6-3 in the conference while North Georgia falls to 8-9 and 3-6 in the conference.

In the women’s game, North Georgia notched a 61-56 win over AU. Macey Gregg led the Nighthawks (8-1, 15-2) with 18 points, and Abbie Franklin chipped in 13. Kennedi Manning paced Augusta with 14 points and seven rebounds. The Jaguars (4-5, 6-7) got 12 points from Zairya West. North Georgia built a 32-21 halftime lead and held on despite a 21-9 fourth quarter in favor of the Jaguars.

AU will head on the road to play conference foe Georgia College at 1:30 p.m. (women’s game) and 3:30 on Saturday, Jan.25.

Troy Cracknell launches at a jumper for Augusta in its 83-58 win over North Georgia. (photo by Carlos Rodriguez)