By Eric Eversley, Staff Writer
The GRU Augusta men’s basketball team was able to sneak out of Alumni Arena with a 79-76 Peach Belt Conference overtime victory on Saturday during Armstrong State’s Homecoming.
The loss drops Armstrong (6-14, 4-10 PBC) into a three-way tie for fifth place in the PBC East Division standings, while the win draws the Jaguars (18-5, 10-4 PBC) into a tie for first place.
After a tightly played first half, Armstrong went into the break with a narrow 32-30 lead. At the beginning of the second half GRU Augusta seemingly took control of the game after taking a 53-42 lead following a devastating 19-3 run. The Pirates would then go on their own run to tie the contest at 66-all on a three pointer by junior Nicholas Scott with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
The following possession the Jaguars’ Devon Wright-Nelson put his team ahead 68-66 with 54 seconds left, but the clutch senior Emmanuel Tiluscar tied the contest again with a layup in heavy Jaguar traffic. Armstrong had a chance to win the contest in regulation with 1.9 seconds left, but the Pirates Nick Scott missed a contested baseline jump shot which sealed the victory for GRU.
When asked about his teams trust in him to take the final shot Scott said, “One of the most important characteristics a team can have is trust. Without trust the team will fall apart. I think the remaining five games will show this team’s true colors.”
In overtime, the Jaguars got back-to-back baskets to push their lead to 76-72 with two minutes left. Tiluscar would respond the next possession with a basket of his own to cut the lead to just two with 1:46 left in overtime.
After a blocking foul was called, the Jaguars went to the line and split the free throws, taking a 77-74 lead with 42 seconds left. The Pirates Shaq Mitchell would convert a layup to draw the Pirates within one with 40 seconds remaining. Two more free throws by the Jaguars would push their lead back to three and Tiluscar’s game tying jump shot over two defenders would rim out to seal the 79-76 win for the Jaguars.
Tiluscar said, “I feel that we are ready and prepared for these last five games. We determine our own destiny. Despite our ups and downs, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Just one game behind for the fourth place seed in the conference tournament, Emmanuel “ET” Tiluscar is going to have to rally up his younger teammates as they make a final push if the Pirates wish to see post-season action.
Tiluscar finished the game with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Scott and Mitchell each finished with 15 points. The Pirates return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Francis Marion to face off against the Patriots. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.