Former Shaw assistant coach MarQus Johnson returned to Spaulding Gymnasium in grand style after leading St. Augustine’s to a 66-62 win over archrival Shaw on Saturday.
Johnson, in his first season as head coach, gave the Falcons their first victory at Shaw since Jan. 26, 2013.
“The difference has been our practices,” Johnson said. “We dedicated ourselves on defense, and I told them our practices were going to be harder than our games. And the players have responded.”
Senior guard Raheem Jolliffe led three players in double figures with 22 points, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Jolliffe scored 10 in the second half to help the Falcons rally from a seven-point halftime lead.
“Coach (Johnson) told us to keep our composure and don’t get down; just keep the pressure up and be more aggressive. I’m the senior captain, and I have a bigger role now,” he said.
After trailing for the first five minutes of the second half, St. Aug’s took its first lead since the beginning of the game on Anthony Gaskins’ (15 points) second straight 3-pointer. The Falcons built the lead to four before Shaw scored seven consecutive points to go up 52-49 with 8 minutes, 2 seconds left.
“We knew they were going to make a run, and Coach just told us to stick together,” said freshman forward Quincy January, who recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
It was January’s back-to-back, high-flying, crowd-roaring dunks that gave the Falcons the lead and momentum back with 5:44 left.
But the Bears didn’t go away quietly. After trailing 62-55 with just 33.4 seconds left, Shaw cut it to two with 9.2 seconds remaining. St. Aug’s Marquis Hines sealed the deal with two free throws.
“It’s still surreal to me right now,” Johnson said. “I’m enjoying this win.”
Shaw led 36-29 at the half despite just hitting 1 of 7 from 3-point range. The Bears made up for it by outscoring the Falcons 16-6 inside the paint and making 77.8 percent of their free throws, compared with St. Aug’s 0-for-5 attempts.
Despite that, the Falcons held tough and withstood every Shaw run.
After the Bears took their biggest lead of the first half of 10 points with just under a minute left, St. Aug’s quickly cut it to five on a Tennell bucket and Gaskins’ 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining.
Shaw forward Koron Reed, who scored 13 in the half and 18 for the game, gave Shaw its seven-point margin just before the buzzer.