The College of Coastal Georgia women’s basketball team flirted with an upset of Southeastern University on Saturday at Howard Coffin Gym before the nation’s second-ranked team managed to pull out a 68-62 victory.
After the game, Roger Hodge had high praise for his Coastal Georgia squad, which was going for its fifth consecutive victory.
“Our kids competed and did some really good things,” Hodge said. “We got better today, and hopefully we can take some things from the game today and continue to improve.”
The Fire (14-2, 7-0 The Sun Conference threatened to pull away from the Mariners (10-6, 5-3) several times in the game, but the home team continued to find answers to stay within striking distance all the way to the finish.
Coastal led by two points in the fourth quarter and drew to within 65-62 in the final 35 seconds when Solrun Gisladottir drilled a three-pointer to make it a one-possession game.
But, the visitors put away the contest on three straight made foul shots by Elsa Paulsson-Glantz in the final seconds with the Mariners forced to foul.
The Swedish senior gave the Fire a 67-62 lead with back-to-back makes, and then after a missed three-ball by Coastal Georgia, she was fouled again following her defensive rebound and made another free throw to make for the final margin.
Paulsson-Glantz was one of three double-figures scorers in the game for the Fire. She finished with 17 points and also 10 rebounds.
Jaycee Coe led all scorers with 20 points for the Fire as she connected on 5 of 8 three-points shots in the game. Marlena Schmidt, the team’s 6-foot-6 center, finished with 10 points before fouling out late.
Ayshia Baker led three double-figure scorers for the Mariners as she poured in 17 points. Gisladottir followed with 15 as she buried 5-of-10 threes and Brianna Gipson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Lynsey Washington led the Mariners on the backboards with a game-high 12 rebounds.
The largest lead by either side was nine points by Southeastern which opened up a six-point cushion the the opening period before the Mariners grabbed a 21-17 lead by the end of the quarter.
The Fire regained the lead in the second period and held a 33-31 advantage at halftime after going up by as much as five points in the quarter.
Southeastern went up by the nine-point cushion at the 7:27 mark of the third period on two Halee Printz free throws, but the Mariners battled back to get within 49-44 going into the fourth quarter.
The Mariners got within 49-48 on a Gipson bucket early in the final period and took a 53-51 lead on two foul shots by the senior forward with 6:59 to go.
But the Fire responded and would go out to a 65-58 lead before a late comeback-bid by Coastal Georgia.
The Mariners outrebounded Southeastern 39-32, but committed 23 turnovers to 14 by the Fire.
“We made a few too many mistakes to beat a team of that caliber,” Hodge said. “When the game was near the end, they made the plays they needed. That is why they are one of the best teams in the nation.”
The Mariners will be at home again Wednesday for a non-league game against Vorhees before playing at Thomas University on Saturday in their final game in the first-half of the conference schedule.