NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Three times in his life - all of which came at the high school level - Aaron Augustin was responsible for putting in a game-winning shot for his team.
The fourth time happened Saturday night inside William R. Johnson Coliseum and it's a moment that Stephen F. Austin faithful - and Augustin himself - won't soon forget.
Standing along near the the right wing, Augustin corralled a loose ball rebound and let a game-winning three pointer fly as time expired before taking off on a mad sprint around the perimeter of the court with his teammates trailing behind eager to celebrate SFA's 68-65 come-from-behind victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
"It felt pretty good when I let it go," remarked Augustin after his first collegaite buzzer-beater. "I didn't really know if I got it off in time but everybody just got so excited I figured it must have gone in."
It sure did.
The shot finished off a career-high 11-point effort for the Suwanee, Ga., product who also established a new career high by hauling in a team-high seven rebounds. That tied TJ Holyfield for the highest total by an SFA player in the game and none was bigger than the one that set up the game-winner.
"Shannon [Bogues] didn't make the shot out of the time out but he had enough courage to shoot," added SFA head coach Kyle Keller while detailing the game's final play. Holyfield put SFA up 65-62 with his free throw make with 50 seconds left before the Warhawks' Travis Munnings swished a game-tying three-pointer with 25 ticks to go. Out SFA's timeout with 11 seconds to go, Keller explained his plan.
"I told them this in the timeout: regardless if we miss the shot or if we make it we have to take it with at least five seconds left because the second shot's going to win the game, not the first one."
At the end of the wild win, Holyfield found himself with a game-best 24 points on an almost-perfect 8-of-9 showing from the field. SFA's high-scoring junior was one of five 'Jacks who amassed 10 or more points in the come-from-behind triumph as both Leon Gilmore III and Kevin Harris added 11 markers apiece. Shannon Bogues, like Augustin, put in 10 points.
Perhaps the most important statistic, however, was the 'Jacks' lack of turnovers. SFA committed a season-low nine throwaways in the win while dishing out 14 assists - a game and career-high five of which came from Bogues.
Although Holyfield's flawless first-half shooting touch helped the 'Jacks out to an early 11-6 lead, SFA was anything but perfect from the free throw stripe and the three-point line during the opening frame. SFA drilled only 40-percent (4-of-10) of its free throws and 25-percent (1-of-4) of its downtown tries to find itself trailing at the halftime break.
What hurt the 'Jacks most through the opening half was a lengthy scoring drought. Following a pull-up jumper from Bogues which pushed the hosts' edge to 13-8 with 12:55 remaining in the frame, SFA connected on just two shots over the next 10 minutes.
Louisiana-Monroe, conversely, suffered from no such difficulties on offense as it made use of the three-pointer during an 11-0 run to open up 19-13 lead with 7:09 to go in the half. Travis Munnings, Michael Ertel and Marvin Jean-Pierre each connected on a long-range shot through that stretch to ensure the Warhawks wouldn't trail for the rest of the half.
Both of the 'Jacks' field goals through the otherwise dry 10-minute stretch came courtesy of Holyfield who went on to finish the half with 10 points. The junior's efforts helped SFA go on a 7-1 scoring surge and tie things up at 20.
A tie was the best SFA could do for the remainder of the frame, however, as the Warhawks hit five of their 10 first-half free throws in the last 2:30 to claim a 31-27 edge over the hosts at the break.
Continuing his scorching shooting, Holyfield launched the 'Jacks back in front by beginning the second half with a jump hook and a straightaway three-pointer. Those makes came in the first 58 seconds of the frame and were a large part of an 11-1 Lumberjack run that upped the hosts' edge to 38-32 with 16:56 to go.
Just as it looked as though the 'Jacks were about to take over the game, the Warhawks changed the hosts' plans. Another pair of Louisiana-Monroe three-pointers coupled with a trio of makes at the foul line represented the entirity of a 9-0 run which handed the Warhawks a 45-39 lead with 12:00 left.
Led by Bogues, Holyfield and Gilmore III, the 'Jacks would never give up. That aforementioned trio put in all of the home team's points during a 16-3 scoring spree over the ensuing 5:38 that lifted SFA back up by a 55-48 score.
Four times in the last final 5:48 the Warhawks battled back to tie the game but each time the 'Jacks had the answer. Augustin put in two of the 'Jacks' final three field goals in the last 4:56 while SFA drilled five of its final six free throws to set them up for the dramatic final possession.
Marvin Jean-Pierre finished with 19 points to lead the way for the Warhawks while Travis Munning added 16. Before fouling out late in the second half, Sam McDaniel tallied 14 markers for Louisiana-Monroe
Perhaps the most difficult test so far awaits the 'Jacks Wednesday evening in Ruston, La. There, SFA will tangle with a Louisiana Tech team that boasts a 6-1 record and has a home court winning streak that rivals that of the 'Jacks. The Bulldogs have gone 80-4 in the Thomas Assembly Center since the start of the 2012-13 season and beginning at 6:30 p.m. SFA will try to hand Louisiana Tech just its fifth home setback in that span.