BOWIE —After a rough start against Augusta on Nov. 25, the Bowie State University men’s basketball team rebounded to finish more efficiently on both ends of the floor in route to a 62-55 close win at home at the A.C. Jordan Arena.
Guard Juwan Smith shot 10 of 14 from the field, including 5 for 6 from the 3-point line, to finish with a game-high 27 points to lead the Bulldogs to their second straight win after losing their first five games.
“I feel like I performed pretty well. I found my shot early. I couldn’t find my shot all season,” Smith said.
The game saw seven lead changes as both squads traded baskets in spurts throughout the second half. With a few minutes remaining in the first half, Smith and David Belle gave the Bulldogs a spark to close the deficit from 11 to four (31-27) at halftime.
“Energy, energy. It was all energy. We’re a high-level energy team,” the 5-foot-10 junior said about the key to victory.
The momentum that the Bulldogs (2-5) had continued into the second half as BSU regained its lead with about 18 minutes remaining. Bowie out-rebounded Augusta late in the game, everyone played their role and Smith knocked down timely shots – including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 51 seconds left – to seal the win.
“We knew Juwun was capable of that,” Bowie Head Coach Darrell Brooks said of Smith’s game-changing performance. “We needed it tonight, so it was the right time.”
Brooks stressed to his team toward the end of the first half to guard the 3-point line. That proved to be the difference down the stretch as every Jaguars shot was contested in the second half, as only 12.5 percent from deep connected in the final 20 minutes.
“Terrific will by our guys. A lot of grit, a lot of toughness,” Brooks said. “I felt like that’s kind of what we’ve been doing the last couple of games and they understand what they have to do. And winning is the most important thing right now.”
Known as a high-scoring team, Augusta struggled in the second half with missed lay-ups, free throws and committed costly turnovers as they were being outscored 35-24.
“Late in the game, we weren’t successful on the defensive end – wasn’t getting rebounds, wasn’t really getting stops,” said Jaguars freshman guard Darren Lucas-White.
The Capitol Heights native led the Jaguars with nine points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. He said it felt great to return back home to see family and friends, adding that he wish he could have done more to lead his team to the win.
“I feel like I performed a little good, but I could have contributed a little more,” Lucas-White said.
Head Coach Dip Metress thought Augusta was lethargic to begin the second half, which had an immense impact on the outcome despite their early double-digit lead. He also said foul trouble and giving up too many offensive boards late in the game hurt the Jaguars (3-2) as well.
“We didn’t finish any plays to close out the half, and we didn’t finish any plays to start out the second half,” Metress said. “We, uncharacteristically, did not play very well.”
For most of the second half, Bowie was in control, especially on defense where they held Augusta to 8-for-30 shooting in the second half. Belle chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds to help Bowie to the win.
The Bulldogs look to extend their win streak when they travel to Erie, Pa. to face Gannon University at 7 p.m. Nov. 28.