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Auburn basketball downs Charleston in NCAA First Round

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SAN DIEGO, Calif.—The 19th-ranked Auburn basketball team played outstanding defense and knocked down timely shots down the stretch to defeat College of Charleston, 62-58, in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional at Viejas Arena Friday.

In a game that saw six lead changes in the final 6:03 of the game, it was two late three-pointers that were the difference for the Tigers. Bryce Brown knocked down a three with 3:11 remaining to give Auburn a 56-55 lead before Jared Harper hit from long range with 1:17 to break a 56-56 tie.

The Tigers’ defense forced Charleston into 21 turnovers and held the Colonial Athletic Association first team all-conference guard Joe Chealey to just two points, well below his season average of 18.5.

The win was the program’s eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament opening round victory, tied for the fourth-longest streak in the country.

Auburn (26-7) will face the winner of Clemson-New Mexico State on Sunday in the Round of 32. Charleston ended its season 26-8.

Both teams struggled to find accuracy from the field they entered the locker room at halftime tied 25-25. Auburn led for a majority of first half and led by seven with 1:56 before a 7-0 Charleston run knotted the game.

Brown’s three-pointer to open the second half snapped Auburn’s 0-for-13 start from downtown and helped propel the Tigers’ offense the last 20 minutes. Brown hit 3-of-4 from long range and scored all 10 of his points in the second half.

Auburn led by seven points three times in the second half, but the pesky Cougars did not quit, scoring nine consecutive points in three minutes to take a one-point advantage, 51-50, with 5:10 remaining.

Following Brown and Harper’s big shots late, Harper came up big again contesting a three-point attempt by Grant Riller that came up short with under 30 seconds left that would have tied the game. Harper hit one foul shot with three seconds for the final difference.

Auburn was led by sophomore guard Mustapha Herron’s 16 points. Forward Desean Murray added 11 and seven rebounds.

Charleston was led by Jarrell Brantley’s 24 points and seven rebounds while Grant Riller scored 16.

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