The College of Coastal Georgia men’s basketball team battled Southeastern University even for almost nearly 40 minutes Saturday, coming up short as the eighth-ranked Fire pulled out an 87-82 win at Howard Coffin Gym.
The Fire entered the game 14-3 and a perfect 7-0 in The Sun Conference, but the Mariners (10-8, 5-3) held a seven-point early in the second half and were tied with the top team in the conference with 3:24 to go.
Ultimately, Southeastern’s leading scorer Josiah Barsh came through for his team in the clutch to help it get out of town with the victory.
With the visitors leading by 82-79 inside the final minute, the Mariners missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer and Southeastern came away with the rebound.
Barsh dribbled for several seconds just inside the midcourt line and then made a move to drive to the basket. But, the senior guard pulled up at the top of the key and took a 3-pointer over his defender that found the bottom of the net for an 85-79 lead that would be too much for the Mariners to overcome in the final 30 seconds.
Coastal Georgia attempted another 3-pointer on its next offensive trip which also was off the mark and thus brought an end to its chances.
The Fire added two more free throws before a three-ball by Jaylen Patrick for the Mariners made for the final margin.
“It was a tough loss. Our kids played extremely hard and fought hard against a good team. We executed really well, just didn’t knock down the shots we needed and they did. They shot it really well,” said Coastal Georgia coach Jesse Watkins.
The final three-ball by Barsh, who finished with a game-high 28 points, was the 12th of the game by the Fire who missed only three of their 15 attempts from behind the arc on the day. They made 27 of their 48 total field-goal tries and finished shooting 56.3 percent for the game.
Jeremy Oppenheimer had a big first half and finished with 23 points for the Fire who also got 12 points from Isaiah Moody and 10 from Ismeal Celestin.
For Coastal Georgia, Jaylen Smallwood, the team’s top scorer for the season, finished with 22 points while Patrick came off the bench to score 18 for the home squad. Elijah Goodman, who battled foul trouble in the second half, finished with 13 points.
Goodman and Jonathan Canada both finished with six rebounds for the Mariners.
The Mariners are now off until they go to Thomas University on Saturday to complete the first round of conference play.