Ronnie Boggs tipped in a Brian Williams miss as time expired, lifting the Jacksonville State men’s basketball team to a 71-69 win over UNC Asheville in Saturday’s BracketBusters event.
In a game that never saw a double-digit lead by either team and saw five ties and 11 lead changes, the Gamecocks (17-10) delivered the final blow in a back-and-forth win over a Bulldogs (15-14) team that has represented the Big South Conference in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons.
That blow came after a pair of Sam Hughes free throws that tied the game at 69-69 with eight ticks on the clock. Williams brought the ball up the left side of the floor before pulling up from just inside the left wing. His attempt drew the back end of the rim but a trailing Boggs tipped it in and watched backboard light up as the ball fell hung over the rim.
The game winner gives JSU 17 wins for the first time since the 20-win season by the 2002-03 team. It ties the 1999-00 squad for the second-most wins in a season in the school’s 18-year Division I history.
Four Gamecocks scored in double figures, a group that was led by senior Tarvin Gaines‘ 18 on a day in which open looks were hard for JSU’s leading scorer were hard to come by. Williams scored 15 points in the win, and Boggs and sophomore Darion Rackley added 13 apiece.
Boggs went 6-for-10 from the floor and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Four of those boards were on the offensive glass, but none of which were nearly as big as his final one. The Kansas City, Mo., native also dished a career-high seven assists and swiped three of his team’s seven steals.
UNC Asheville’s leading scorer Jeremy Atkinson did his job on Saturday, putting in 29 points on an 11-for-18 day from the floor. Corey Littlejohn added 19 points in the losing effort, while D.J. Cunningham came off of the bench to lead all players with 11 rebounds.
The first half was a back-and-forth one, with the two exchanging the lead eight times and tying the score three times. The Gamecocks built the largest lead of the first 20 minutes early with a six-point advantage just five minutes in.
The Bulldogs got one of Atkinson’s five first-half field goals with 18 seconds on the clock to give them a 32-31 lead at the half.
The two kept exchanging blows to start the second half before a pair of steals and easy dunks from Williams and Rackley gave the Gamecocks a 56-48 lead with just under seven minutes remaining. They would stretch it to nine at 60-41 on a pair of Nick Cook free throws, but UNC Asheville wouldn’t go away.
Atkinson found a slight cushion between Boggs’ defensive coverage and knocked down a long 3-pointer that pulled the Bulldogs within six at 62-56 with 3:52 on the game clock. They would continue to claw back, getting an old-fashioned 3-point play from Atkinson that cut the Gamecock lead to 64-61 with under four minutes remaining.
They got another stop and then another Atkinson basket that cut the lead again, this time to 66-65 with over a minute to play. Rackley turned it over under the JSU basket, setting up a floater from Meyer that fell with 42 seconds left and gave the Bulldogs a 67-66 lead.
The Gamecocks ran the clock for about 10 seconds before Gaines drained a deep 3-pointer that put the Gamecocks back up 69-67 with just 28 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs answered again, this time with a pair of free throws from Sam Hughes that tied it again with 8.6 seconds to play.
That set up the game winning drive from Williams that handed the Gamecocks their ninth non-conference win in 12 tries this season.
The Gamecocks now travel to Nashville for their final game of the season at Ohio Valley Conference leader Belmont on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.
Recap Provided By Jacksonville State Athletics