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Jones and Shugart Lead Top-Seeded Anderson Past Newberry in Double Overtime

Box Score

HICKORY, N.C. – Junior Denzail Jones scored a South Atlantic Conference-record 50 points and senior Taylor Shugart posted a career-high 27 points as 16th-ranked and top-seeded Anderson outlasted No. 4 seeded Newberry, 113-106, in double overtime in the semifinals of the 2012 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon at Catawba Valley Community College. 

Anderson (24-4) won its ninth straight contest and 17th in its last 18 outings and advances to meet third-seeded Wingate, while the fourth-seeded Wolves saw their season end with a record of 16-12. AU head coach Jason Taylor garnered his 100th win at the helm of the Trojan program with the hard-earned victory.  

After Jones connected on one-of-two from the line, the Trojans led 72-68 with 22 seconds left in regulation, but the Wolves Matt Dixon drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 13.3 ticks on the clock to pull Newberry within a single point. Following a 30-second timeout by the Wolves, Jones slipped inside for a layup that gave the Trojans a 74-71 lead as the clock wound down. But Newberry freshman Quashun Hawkins, who was well-covered by a pair of Trojan defenders, launched a desperation attempt from well beyond the arc that fell through the basket as the horn sounded to send the game into the first extra period with the score knotted at 74 apiece. 

Newberry carried the momentum from the last-second basket into overtime, scoring the first seven points of the frame. But the Trojans refused to surrender, as Jones scored Anderson’s first 16 points of the first extra period, many on acrobatic layups.    
   
Trailing, 87-80 with 2:20 on the clock, Jones canned one of his four 3-pointers on the afternoon and followed with a steal and a driving layup to cut Newberry’s lead to one possession with less than two minutes remaining.  

The Wolves eased back out to a five-point lead with 42 seconds left, but again Jones answered with a trey and following Hawkins one-of-two from the line, Trojan senior guard Tyrell McDowell connected on a clutch 3-pointer – his first of the contest - from the right side to again knot the score, this time at 93-93 with 10.8 seconds showing.
 As the Wolves worked for the game-winning shot, Hawkins was whistled for an offensive foul, giving the Trojans possession with 5.2 seconds left. However, Aegir Steinarsson swiped the ball from Jones in traffic, denying AU an opportunity to earn the win in the first overtime.

The second overtime featured four lead changes in the first two minutes before Anderson took a lead it would not relinquish, 100-98, on senior guard Nick Trull’s first 3-pointer of the afternoon. The Trojans went on to build an eight-point lead – its’ largest of the game - in the final moments, with Trull notching 10 of his 14 points in the second overtime

The game featured 13 lead changes and seven ties, with both teams opening slowly on the Tarlton Complex hardwood, as Anderson connected on just three of its first 17 attempts from the field (17.6%), while Newberry was almost as cold, shooting just 22.7 percent (5-of-22) and giving no indication of the final 10 minutes of basketball.

Anderson misfired on its first eight shots from the field and was unable to get on the scoreboard until Shugart connected on a pair of free throws at the 15:42 mark, but Newberry was unable to capitalize, going 0-for-7 from the field over the first four minutes of action. Jones’ steal and layup tied the game for the first time at 4-4 with just less than 15 minutes on the clock and Trull’s jumper a minute later gave AU its first lead, 6-4. But it was brief, as Newberry scored five straight points to open a 9-6 advantage.

AU snapped a 16-16 tie with a trey from sophomore Chandler Hash and a jumper from Shugart, but Newberry countered with nine straight points as part of a 14-5 run to regain a 30-26 edge late in the first half. Jones’ traditional three-point play with 47 seconds remaining trimmed the deficit to 30-29, but the Wolves’ Tomas Tomasson answered with a 3-pointer, giving Newberry a 33-29 lead at halftime. 

The Wolves opened the second half with a 6-2 run to open their largest advantage of the contest at that point, at 39-31. While Jones’ 3 from the left wing cut Newberry’s lead to 39-34, the Wolves scored five unanswered to push out to a double-digit advantage with 13:52 left. 

Down 44-34, Jones scored five straight for AU, then followed a pair of Newberry free throws with another layup to spark a 20-10 outburst as the Trojans overcame their slow start and erased the 10-point second-half deficit, claiming a 54-49 lead with just more than seven minutes left in regulation.

Shugart, who was whistled for his third foul with more than 15 minutes left, then re-entered two minutes later, added eight points during the rally. AU took its first lead since the 5:52 mark of the first half on Jones’ traditional three-point play during the rally.

Anderson gained a seven-point lead inside the seven-minute mark, but Newberry refused to go away, capturing a brief 68-67 lead with 2:03 left before Jones responded with a close jumper to set up the final frantic minutes. 

Jones, the SAC Player of the Year, added six steals to his career-high scoring effort, while Shugart finished with a career-high 27 points and 19 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Trull added 14 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double effort and Jo’el Lamb recorded his first double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. 

The championship matchup with Wingate is slated to start at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Eight teams from each of the eight regions will advance to the NCAA Division II tournament. In the Southeast Region, the tournament champions from the SAC, Peach Belt, and Conference Carolinas will receive an automatic bid, with five more at-large selections.

The NCAA will announce its 2012 tournament field Sunday night and the selections will be available beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on NCAA.com.

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