Braves Fall Just Short of the Conference Championship Game in the Semifinals
The No.4 seeded Braves fell to the No.1 seeded Jaguars of Augusta University 70-77 in the semifinal round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Mar.9 in their second trip to the Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta, GA. The Jags had finished the season as regular season conference champions, ranked No.15 in the nation and split their regular season series with the Braves, with each team winning the regular season matchup on the other’s home court. What ultimately led to the downfall of the Black and Gold was the very same thing that got them through the opening round of the conference tournament. That was their success and extreme lack thereof in shooting from behind the arc. After shooting over 53 percent against Georgia College in the quarterfinals, the Braves were unable to replicate that success against the top-seeded Jags. They were an underwhelming 42 percent from the field on the day, which included an abysmal 4-of-20 from three-point range after converting 14-of-25 against the Bobcats just days before. The defeat extended the win streak of a red-hot Augusta team to 12 straight games and brought an end to the Braves own seven-game win streak in the PBC tournament. While they edged out the Jags in total rebounds at 32-29 and committed two fewer turnovers, they flirted too much with foul trouble, committing seven more than their hosts and Augusta took advantage of those opportunities coupled with the Braves poor shooting day. Both James Murray Boyles and David Strother fouled out in this contest. Junior Akia Pruitt led the team in scoring with 16 points and despite fouling out with just under five minutes left in the game, Murray-Boyles was able to finish second on the team in points scored with 14 in just 18 minutes of play, lowest among starters.