After a 5-0 start to the year, the South Alabama Jaguars have fallen back down to Earth a bit.
Entering play on Tuesday night against the Denver Pioneers, the Jaguars were riding a mini two-game losing streak, and had lost three of their previous four games.
As for Denver, the Pioneers came into Tuesday night with a 2-2 record on their current five-game road swing, and a 4-5 record overall. They were looking to return home with a .500 record, and a win over the Jaguars would be another notable win for the Pioneers, who knocked off the Air Force Falcons in their last outing.
South Alabama took a lead late in the first half, thanks to a three point play from Georgi Boyanov, and the Jaguars took a 26-22 advantage into the locker room.
In the second half, however, it was all about Denver.
The Pioneers erased their four-point deficit, and continued to build on their own lead as the half wore on. In the end, the Pioneers scored the 64-51 come-from-behind win over South Alabama, ending their road trip with a 3-2 record.
Sophomore guard Joe Rosga led the way for the Pioneers, scoring a game-high 25 points, while going 5-of-10 from three point range.
Ken Williams led the way for South Alabama, scoring a team-high 15 points.
After Denver fell behind in the closing minutes of the first half, they wasted little time getting the score all-tied up. A pair of jumpers from Daniel Amigo and C.J. Bobbitt to open the half tied the game up at 26-all, and the Pioneers were off and running.
Thomas Neff followed with a three point jumper shortly thereafter to give the Pioneers the 31-28 lead, and they would never trail the rest of the way.
A pair of free throws from Shaq Calhoun would get the Jaguars back to within a single point, at 31-30, but that was as close as the home side could get over the final 17-plus minutes of the game. Denver slowly, but surely, built their lead over the course of the second half, maintaining their momentum throughout.
Denver’s lead would reach as many as 14 points, and they would come away with the 64-51 win over South Alabama.
Against Air Force, Daniel Amigo scored a career-high 33 points in the win. He followed that performance up with an 11-point, 9 rebound performance against the Jaguars. C.J. Bobbitt chipped in with 10 points.
For the Jaguars, Don MuepoKelly scored 11 points, while Boyanov recorded a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Denver shot an even 50.0% (21-of-42) from the field, while holding the Jaguars to 31.5% (17-of-54) shooting. The Pioneers also went 7-of-17 (41.2%) from three point range, while South Alabama was just 2-of-22 (9.1%) from long distance.
The win gives the Denver Pioneers (5-5, 0-0) their first two-game winning streak of the season, and brings their record back to even. They will go for their third straight victory on Saturday, when they return home to take on the Northern Colorado Bears.
After their hot start to the year, the South Alabama Jaguars (6-4, 0-0) have now lost three straight games overall, and four of their last five. They will look to get back to their winning ways on Friday night when they take on the Samford Bulldogs.
– T. Bennett