COLUMBUS, Ga. – The University of Montevallo men's basketball team (23-7) used a 12-0 run early in the second half to punch its ticket to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship game Saturday evening when it posted a 63-59 victory over Augusta State University (17-11) in the first semifinal game in Columbus State University's Frank G. Lumpkin Center.
Montevallo will face the USC Aiken/Columbus State University winner in the title game at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. The winner earns the PBC's automatic berth into the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament.
Senior Antoine Davis (Washington, D.C./College of the Desert) led Montevallo with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, while junior Drico Hightower (Augusta, Ga./Angelina College) had 11 points and nine rebounds and senior D.J. Rivera (Philadelphia, Pa./Binghamton University) added 11 points.
The Jaguars placed four players in double figures led by Tye Beal's 15 points. O'Neal Armstrong netted 12 points, while Travis Keels and D'Angelo Boyce had 10 each. Harold Doby led ASU in rebounds with eight.
After tying for the third time in the game at 16-16 with 7:37 left in the first half, Augusta State used a 15-0 run to take a 31-16 advantage with 4:08 remaining. During the scoring spree, Beal netted three treys, including one four-point play, while Armstrong drilled a three and Keels made a two-pointer.
Montevallo followed its four-minute scoring drought with a three from Rivera and a fast break layup by Davis to cut the lead to 31-21 at the 3:13 mark.
The Jaguars' Devon Wright-Nelson came back with a three and two-pointer to make it 36-21 at 2:18, but the Falcons concluded the half (36-25) with a basket underneath by Davis and a Jonas Brown layup.
Montevallo made its move following the intermission when it cut the Augusta State lead under double figures at 38-29 when Hightower scored with 18:38 left in the game.
Augusta made it 45-34 on a D'Angelo Boyce three at 16:07, but Montevallo responded with a 12-0 run to take a 46-45 lead at 11:11 on Brown's three pointer. The Falcons started the run with junior Marvin Fitzgerald's (Milwaukee, Wisc./North Carolina Central) two free throws, Davis added a three-point play and Hightower and senior DeMarcus Catchings (Arlington, Texas/Cedar Valley College) each had a basket.
After two more ties and two lead changes, Montevallo eased out to a five-point lead at 58-53 on Hightower putback.
The Jags cut it to 58-55 on Armstrong's two free throws at 1:39, but Rivera went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 25.5 seconds to secure the win.
For the game, Montevallo connected on 24-of-59 field goals for 40.7 percent, including 2-of-15 threes for 13.3 percent. The Falcons sank 13-of-26 free throws for 50 percent.
ASU was 21-of-46 from the field for 45.7 percent, including 8-of-14 threes for 57.1 percent. The Jags sank 9-of-14 foul shots for 64.3 percent.