Brunswick, Ga. – The College of Coastal Georgia men's basketball team flirted with an upset of the nation's 18th-ranked team Saturday afternoon before the Crusaders pulled out a 79-69 conference win at Howard Coffin Gym.
The Mariners only led in the game's opening seconds, but after trailing by double figures early in the second half, Coastal Georgia was down just 66-62 inside the final three minutes when the game turned heavily in William Carey's favor on one offensive possession.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Leo Garrett, who scored a game-high 25 points, pushed the Crusaders' lead to seven points with 2:25 to go.
The Mariners were also hit with a technical foul after Garrett's driving basket, and he would also make two extra free throws that extended the visitors' advantage to 71-62 and seemingly took the wind out of the Mariners' sails.
William Carey would pad its lead back into twin numbers in the closing moments before leaving town with the 10-point triumph.
The tough loss left the Mariners (3-12 overall, 1-6) winless in the Southern States Athletic Conference. The loss was also the fifth in a row for Coastal Georgia.
The Crusaders improved to 10-3 and 4-1 in the SSAC with the victory.
In defeat, the Mariners got 22 points from Brandon Martin who was 6-for-12 from the three-point line. Jaylen Smallwood and Haylen Washington scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench.
Also for the Crusaders, Maurice Stephens finished with 10 points to give the team two players in twin numbers.
William Carey shot 49.2 percent (29-59) for the game, outscoring the Mariners 48-18 in the paint.
Coastal Georgia trailed by as much as 12 points in the opening 20 minutes but was down just 35-29 at halftime following a late surge in the closing moments before the break.
After falling behind 39-29 in the opening minute of the second half, the Mariners tied the score at 41-41 on a bucket by Martin with 14:57 to go.
Coastal Georgia would never get the lead, but stayed with the Crusaders until the end, never trailing by more than seven before getting within 63-62 on a three-pointer by Martin with 4:44 to play.
Following a made free throw by Garrett on the other end, the Mariners misfired on consecutive shots on their next trip, and Ashton Woodson score on a second-chance bucket for the Crusaders to give them a 66-62 lead with 3:03 left.
Again, the Mariners couldn't connect on their offensive end, and after a William Carey timeout, the early-mentioned five-point possession for the Crusaders occurred and all but ended Coastal Georgia's upset bid.
The Mariners are now off until hosting Faulkner next Saturday for a 4 p.m. conference game at Coffin.