After Wednesday’s emotion-driven 78-69 win over USC Aiken, the Braves fell flat over the weekend at the English E. Jones Center in what was supposed to be their final home tune-up before a four-game road trip.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke men’s basketball team slipped into second place in the Peach Belt’s East Division Sunday after a disappointing 64-60 loss to Georgia College during which the Braves struggled from the floor and turned it over 18 times.
After winning the battle-for-first against the Pacers, UNCP (12-6, 6-2) suffered from sloppy ball-handling and faulty shooting against a squad that had lost five of its previous seven games.
“The great thing about this league is that you don’t have time to hang your head,” Braves coach Ben Miller said. “We’ve got another opportunity Wednesday (at Augusta State).”
On Sunday, the Bobcats (10-7, 3-5) took the lead for good on Mike Augustine’s 3-pointer with 13:25 remaining and led by as many as eight in the final minute. The win was Georgia College’s 25th in its last 27 meetings with the Braves, but still shocked most of those in attendance after the Bobcats stumbled to a 2-5 start in conference play.
“Give credit to Georgia College, their players and their staff … they earned it,” Miller said. “We got out-worked in a few areas and we couldn’t get stops when we needed to.”
Miller alluded to his team’s effort during a few key sequences down the stretch. The Braves shot 37 percent while Georgia College converted 26 points at the other end off turnovers.
“We won the rebounding battle, but they won the fight for the loose balls,” he said. “They were disruptive, did some good things defensively and had a good gameplan.”
The focus now shifts to Augusta State, a streaking Jaguars squad that has won five of their last games and is right behind the Braves — a game back — in the PBC East. UNCP Preseason All-American Shahmel Brackett did not play in Sunday’s loss after he suffered a foot injury in the first half against USC Aiken.
His production was sorely missed Sunday after the Braves’ starting guards — Marcus Heath, Griffin Pittman and K.J. Cooper — combined for just 14 points.
“It’s bruised really bad, but I’m going to try and play Wednesday,” Brackett said.
UNCP women heating up
Since dropping a home game to Clayton State on Jan. 5, the Lady Braves have won four straight PBC contests, including Sunday’s 54-50 decision over Georgia College.
UNCP (8-8, 5-3) scored 21 points off turnovers and was fueled by 10-point efforts from Domonique Washington and Courtney Bolton. The Lady Braves’ largest lead came with 16:48 left to play after DeDe Cotten’s layup gave UNCP a 12-point advantage.
“I was a little disappointed in our defense at times, but I thought everybody did some little things well,” UNCP coach John Haskins said. “(Our) offensive execution needs to get better and just making shots and making plays.”
Like the UNCP men, the Lady Braves play the first of four straight on the road Wednesday at Augusta State (8-9, 3-6). Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.
“(During) this four-game swing, we’re going to have to do some good things to have a chance to come out on top,” Haskins said.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org