|Jaguars Headed To National Championship Game|
|Senior AJ Bowman, junior Garret Siler lead ASU past Alaska-Anchorage|
|Web Posted 3/27/08|
|(view full size photo)|
|Photo Credit: Richard Orr|
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The ultimate dream is now just one game away for the Augusta State Jaguars, who advanced to the National Championship game with a hard-fought 56-50 win over Alaska-Anchorage in the semifinals of the Elite Eight on Thursday. The Jaguars (27-6) will make their first national final appearance against either Bentley or Winona State on Saturday at 2:30. The game will be televised nationally by CBS.
“We are elated to be playing on Saturday,” said head coach Dip Metress.
“Playing for the national championship,” said junior center Garret Siler. “It just doesn’t sound real right now.”
The Jaguars stormed out of the gate, racing to a 21-5 lead as the Seawolves (29-6) went over six minutes without a point. ASU hit their first four shots from the field and outrebounded UAA 23-14 in the half. The Seawolves, ranked #4 in the nation, hit only one of 12 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes.
“We played a phenomenal first half,” said Metress. “But we told our guys that they had four runs in them, and we saw two of them in the first four minutes of the second half.”
Alaska-Anchorage began their comeback with back-to-back three-pointers from McCade Olsen that cut the lead to nine with 17:30 to go. After a pair of Ben Madgen free throws and a 3-pointer from Tyrekus ‘AJ’ Bowman pushed the lead back to 14, UAA answered with three-pointers from Carl Arts and Chris Bryant. An Arts’ layup with 15:03 to go put the cap on an 18-5 run that cut ASU’s lead to four.
“This game is not about who can throw the most punches,” said Bowman. “But who can withstand the most punches. And we withstood theirs.”
UAA trimmed the lead to three with 10:52 to play on a Bryant three-pointer. ASU answered with layups from two layups from Siler and another from Dixon. After playing only five minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls, Siler hit six of nine shots in the second half for 13 points and six rebounds, finishing the game with 17 points and seven boards.
“He had some tough matchups,” said Metress of Siler. “But he went to work inside in the second half. He made some mistakes, but never hung his head.”
Another Arts’ trey with 7:34 left cut the lead to three once again, but ASU rattled off four straight points with layups from Bowman and Siler. Bryant answered with a three for the Seawolves, but Siler again had a response with a three-point play with 3:27 to go.
“We had to worry about them making their runs,” said Dixon. “They are here for a reason. Any moment it could have switched roles and we would have been playing catchup.”
Arts hit another jumper with 2:32 to go to cut the lead to five, but that would be the last field goal for UAA for over two minutes. ASU iced the game from the free throw line as Ben Madgen hit three in the final 35 seconds to give the Jaguars a six-point win.
Bowman led the Jaguars with 18 points and nine rebounds on seven of 15 shooting from the floor. He also added three assists. Siler finished with 17 and seven while Dixon added seven points, two assists and four steals. Augusta State shot 40% (20-50) from the field and outrebounded Seawolves 36-30.
Arts led all players with 19 points for UAA. McCade added 14 and a team-best eight rebounds. Luke Cooper had seven assists, but no points and six rebounds. After shooting 19% in the first half, UAA hit 50% (14-28) in the second half to finish the game at 35%. UAA took only two free thows in the game, making them both.
• With their 27th win, ASU tied a school record for wins in a season.
• ASU becomes only the second PBC men’s basketball team to play for a national championship; Kennesaw State won the title in 2004
• With his 17 points, Garret Siler passed the 1,000 career-point mark.
Augusta State d. Alaska-Anchorage, 56-50 (BOX SCORE)