March 15, 2011

Anderson Advances to Elite Eight with Dramatic Overtime Win Over Augusta State

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Taylor Shugart scored 14 points and blocked the potential game-tying shot with two seconds left in overtime to give seventh-seeded Anderson a dramatic 75-73 win over top-seeded Augusta State in the championship game of the 2011 NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Denzail Jones also scored 14 points, Oskars Ernsteins added 12 points and Brandon Young dished out seven assists for the Trojans (21-11), who advance to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in school history. Anderson avenged a 100-70 loss to Augusta State in last year's Southeast Regional semifinals and a 78-72 defeat to the Jaguars in this year's season opener.

Augusta State's Franck Ndongo posted a double-double for the 10th time this season, including all three Southeast Regional games, with 10 rebounds and a career-high 28 points on 10-15 shooting from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line. George Johnson had 18 points and six assists for the Jaguars (30-4), who were denied a fourth straight trip to the Elite Eight and saw their home winning streak snapped at 48 straight games.

Shugart scored four of Anderson's six points in overtime, including a jumper in the paint with 1:13 on the clock that broke a 73-all tie and proved to be the winning points. Augusta State had a chance to tie after Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left, but Ben Purser's shot in the lane was blocked cleanly by Shugart and the Anderson players and coaches erupted in celebration as time expired. Augusta State missed eight of its nine shots from the field in overtime.

O'Neal Armstrong's two free throws with one minute remaining in regulation put Augusta State up 69-66, matching the Jaguars' biggest lead of the second half. Shugart made one of two free throws to pull Anderson within two points with 43 seconds left, and Ndongo was fouled one second later. Ndongo, who had been a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line to that point, missed both attempts. Anderson's Kevis Cornwell rebounded the  second miss and hit a jumper with 27 seconds remaining to tie the score at 69. After an Augusta State timeout, the Trojans broke up Purser's pass to Ndongo for a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.

A layup by Nick Trull followed by a driving dunk by Trey Britton gave Anderson a 52-43 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the second half, but Augusta State outscored the Trojans 24-12 over the next six-and-a-half minutes to take a three-point lead. Ndongo's two free throws tied the score at 64 with 3:44 on the clock and Johnson's three-pointer at 3:09 put Augusta State on top 67-64, the Jaguars' first lead since 23-22 at the seven-minute mark of the first half.

After hitting a career-best eight three-pointers and matching his career high with 31 points in the Jaguars' 71-60 semifinal win over Queens, Johnson continued his hot hand with two treys in the first four minutes of the championship game. Jones matched him with two three-pointers of his own as the teams played to a 10-all tie.

Ernsteins, who hit five three-pointers in the Trojans' 82-76 semifinal victory over Montevallo, nailed his first three-ball of the night at the 6:42 mark and another a minute later to put Anderson up by five. Jones followed with a steal and fastbreak layup to stretch the margin to 30-23, and Ernsteins hit his third three-pointer to give the Trojans their biggest lead of the first half, 37-28.

Three-point shooting was the difference in the first half, as the Trojans hit seven of 13 shots (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc to take a 39-32 lead to the break. Jones led a balanced Anderson attack with 10 first-half points while Ernsteins scored nine. However, the Trojans shot just 1-7 (14.3 percent) from three-point land in the second half. The lone second-half trey, by Ernsteins from the right wing, put Anderson up 62-56 with 6:20 to play.

After Johnson's two early three-pointers, the Trojans held him to just two more points the rest of the first half. Ndongo had a team-high 10 points and five rebounds as the Jaguars shot 40 percent (4-10) from three-point range and 52.2 percent (12-23) overall in the opening half.

Augusta State shot 57.9 percent (11-19) in the second half to rally from the seven-point halftime deficit, but just 11.1 percent (1-9) in overtime to finish the game at 47.1 percent (24-51) from the field, while Anderson finished at 50 percent (29-58). Augusta State converted 15 of its first 18 free throws and finished 17-22 (77.3 percent) from the charity stripe, while Anderson connected on nine of 14 (64.3 percent) from the free throw line.