The upset-minded Coastal Georgia women fell just short of their goal Monday in an 88-80 loss in an exhibition game at Savannah State.
A 16-point halftime deficit to the Division II Tigers did nothing to deter the Mariners, who used a late charge to pull to within five points on a pair of Quira Porter free throws with 4:28 remaining.
But as she had done all night, Le’Andre Gillis made plays for Savannah State, getting two the basket for a couple of layups to quickly push the advantage back to nine. Gillis finished with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3, along with 10 rebounds.
Coastal Georgia turned it over on its next two possessions, and Ta’Kyla Austin’s layup with 2:30 to play acted as the dagger.
Despite the halftime deficit, it was actually the Mariners who pounced on the Tigers to open the contest as five straight points from Lynsey Washington gave Coastal an early 9-3 lead.
Savannah State took its first lead on a pair of free throws with 3:02 to play in the first before Solrun Gisladottir canned her second 3-pointer of the period. The senior would splash 6-of-13 attempts from distance on the night and finish with a team-high 24 points.
However, the Tigers used a 12-2 run over the final 2:17 of the opening quarter to reclaim the lead, and they wouldn’t relinquish it again the rest of the night.
After Gisladottir scored 13 points for the Mariners in the first quarter, the team was held to just 11 points total in the second as the Tigers ramped up their defense and forced eight turnovers and 4-of-13 shooting in the period.
The dismal second quarter offensive output for Coastal seemed to be an aberration though, as it got hot again after halftime and outscored Savannah State 25-19 in the third on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, trimming what was at its largest a 21-point lead down to 10 entering the final 10 minutes.
Gillis’ jumper pushed the Tigers’ advantage to 12 in the opening seconds of the fourth, but the Mariners responded by rattling off nine straight points — the final seven from Romny Felts, to claw back to within three.
But Gillis would again answer back, draining a 3-pointer an scoring 11 fourth-quarter points to lift Savannah State to the victory.
Porter and Washington each recorded 15 points, and Felts chipped in 12 as four Mariners finished in double digits. Washington also pulled down 11 boards.
Coastal Georgia returns to action Thursday when it welcomes St. Thomas into Howard Coffin Gymnasium for its first Sun Conference contest of the new year. Tip off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.