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Saints use fourth-quarter defense to win rubber match with Centurions

St. Augustine can lay claim to something that not many teams in the section can – they know how to beat University City. With their 68-61 win at home on Tuesday, St. Augustine won their second straight against the fifth-ranked Centurions.

“It’s pretty much the same,” said St. Augustine point guard Stephon Lamar. “We came out with the same gameplan and we executed the gameplan. It’s as simple as that.”

The Saints gameplan is simple – stop guard Mark Hills and center David Washington, University City’s leading scorers.

“Making their other three players beat us instead of those two,” Lamar said. “And it always works.”

The game was very even through the first three quarters, with neither team leading by more than six. Hills nailed three free throws just before the end of the third quarter to make it a one-point game.

But St. Augustine’s defense stepped up in the final quarter. After Hills hit from downtown early in the fourth to give University City a two-point lead, the Saints went on a 12-0 run, holding the Centurions without a basket for nearly five minutes. University City made three treys in 32 seconds to make it a five-point game, but they would not get any closer than that as St. Augustine hung on for the win.

“We figured that they were going to start pulling like they did last game, so we got up in them,” Lamar said. “They are going to make some, but the ones they missed we rebounded and then we made our free throws.”

Lamar led the Saints (18-5, 7-2 Western) with a game-high 27 points and guard Kaum Brandon scored 21. David Washington scored 22 points (four three-pointers) to lead University City (18-5, 6-3) and guards Reynard Rice (14 points) and Hills (11) scored in double figures.

The Saints student section, nicknamed “The Pit,” was loud throughout the game. The Pit is one of the reasons St. Augustine has only lost one home game all season.

“They bring it every night just like we do – it’s as simple as that,” Lamar said. “It helps us, having that fan support. It gives us that extra oomph.”

St. Augustine now has sole possession of first place in the Western League with only three games remaining.

“We’re in the driver’s seat. That’s where you want to be – you want to control your own destiny,” Lamar said. “We got to win so we can get another banner in our gym.”

And not just a league championship banner. The Saints want a better result than last season, when they lost in the Division III semifinals.

“We want a [section] championship,” Lamar said. “There’s 11 guys on our team from last year. We want to go out on top.”

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St. Augustine guard Stephon Lamar drives to the hoop

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