COLUMBIA, S.C. —  The Augusta University men’s basketball team started off its season with a victory defeating the University of South Carolina 77-72 in an exhibition game at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.

After a back-and-forth battle for the majority of the night, Augusta hit a 3-pointer with under a minute to play and sealed the night at the free-throw line to win.

“Give them credit,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “I thought Dip (Metress) was coaching for the national championship the way he was running plays and attacking matchups and all that.”

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Augusta and South Carolina exchanged the lead four times in the opening 20 minutes. In the first half, the leading scorers for Augusta were senior Deane Williams and freshman Tyree Myers, who each had eight points to keep the deficit small going into halftime.

In the first half, the Gamecocks started hot by pulling away early with a 22-10 lead with 13 minutes remaining. Metress had his Jaguars open the game on a 3-2 zone defense, but after the Gamecocks opened the game with a barrage of three-point attempts going 4-of-5 to start, he switched to a man-to-man defense.

That contained the three-point shooting, and AU was able to gain some momentum before halftime but, with 12:59 left in the first half, hot shooting from Williams helped the Jaguars cut the lead to four with 8:46 remaining. With the Gamecocks going cold from the free-throw line and quality defense, the visiting Jaguars took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Williams to take the 29-27 advantage with seven minutes left in the half.

With the lead changing hands four times in the remaining seven minutes, the Gamecocks lead was only three at the end of the first half 39-36.

Leading the Gamecocks at halftime was Tre Campbell with 13 points on 2-for-3 shooting from the field and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line. Williams led the Jaguars with eight points on 3-for-7 shooting and adding five rebounds.

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In the second half, the Gamecocks once again started hot going on a 13-4 run on 5-for-8 shooting from the field. The Jaguars responded with a 14-6 run of their own to bring the South Carolina lead down to only two with 9:02 left on the clock. With the game close throughout the second half, AU junior Rafael Monteiro scored four straight to shift the momentum and tie the game at 66. The Jaguars took the lead for the first time in the second half with a free throw to give them a 67-66 advantage with 3:20 left in the game.

The Gamecocks were not letting up as senior guard Hassani Gravett took over late to score the Gamecocks’ last six points for a 72-71 lead with only 1:17 left in the game. The Jaguars took advantage of great opportunities late offensively going 4-of-6 from the field in the last four minutes. A 16-foot jumper by senior forward Tyvez Monroe gave the Jaguars the lead late 73-72 with 37 seconds remaining.

Myers went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to extend the Jaguar lead to 76-72 with only three seconds left to ice the game and seal the victory for Augusta.

Deane Williams, Tyree Myers, and Monteiro all had strong games for the Jags. Williams finished with 17 points to lead the Jaguars. Myers followed with 16 points shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, 3-for-3 from the three-point line and added five rebounds and two assists, while Monterio added five rebounds and one assist to his 15 points for the Jaguars.

Leading the Gamecocks was Hassani Gravett scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and adding 4 steals.

The Jaguars begin their 2018-2019 basketball schedule Nov. 9-10 against Mount Olive and Barton College in the 45 Second Classic in Wilson, N.C.

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