Brunswick, Ga. – Reggie Burke has a knack for coming through in the clutch for Coastal Georgia.
On Tuesday night, the junior point guard came through again for the Mariners, hitting a three-point shot that broke a tie and ended up being the game-winning basket for Coastal Georgia in a 69-65 victory over Edward Waters in the home opener.
"I'm not surprised at all," said Coastal Georgia coach Gerald Cox of Burke's late-game heroics. "I expect him to make clutch shots like that for us."
Last season, Burke hit two game-winning shots for Coastal Georgia in the closing seconds. His first came in a 67-65 home win over Coker College on Nov. 20 when he scored the deciding basket in the final seconds.
Just a few weeks later, Burke beat this same Edward Waters team with a 3-point shot with 4.1 seconds left that gave the Mariners a 61-60 victory over the Tigers on their home floor in Jacksonville.
Then, in mid-January, Burke hit game-tying three-point shots at the end of regulation and also at the end of the first overtime against Southern Wesleyan before the Mariners pulled out an improbable 104-98 double-overtime victory as they came from way down late in regulation to stun the Warriors.
On Tuesday, with the score tied at 65-65, Burke pulled up at the top of the key after bringing the ball into the frontcourt and drilled a 3-pointer that gave Coastal Georgia (4-1) the lead.
The Tigers (4-2) had just missed a pair of fouls shots on the other end that would have given them the lead. Burke was looking to take the ball to the basket, but when his defender bit on his crossover dribble, Burke instead decided to pull up for the three-point attempt.
"I hadn't made anything all game, but that one felt good when it left my hand," he said.
The Tigers still had plenty of time to tie the game, but their 3-point attempt in the closing moments was off the mark.
After the ball went out of bounds with four seconds left along the baseline, the Mariners threw a pass the length of the floor to P.J. Reason who was fouled on a breakaway attempt. He made one of two fouls shots for good measure to make for the final score.
Reason led the Mariners with 17 points, Kentorey Johnson followed with 14 and Burke also finished in double figures with his game-winning trey. Burke finished 4-of-13 from the field and 2-for-7 from the three-point line.
"I don't know what it is. I really don't," he said of his clutch shooting.
Burke added that he'd rather not have to be in those situations, although he seems to relish the moment. "I wish we could be up like 10 points in the final minute and win easily. I'd rather relax," he said.
Burke was happy, however, that the Mariners could give the home fans the win they came to see in the team's first game at Coffin Gym this season.
"It was nice to play at home. Our fans hadn't seen us play since our scrimmage a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, they will come back this weekend and support us," Burke noted.
The Mariners will open play in the Southern States Athletic Conference on Friday against Mobile before also hosting Belhaven on Saturday for another conference game.
The loss was the second of the season for the Tigers (4-2). Coastal Georgia will play at Edward Waters on Dec. 7.
Antonio Valiente led the Tigers with 24 points in defeat.
The Mariners trailed 27-25 at halftime after shooting just 25 percent from the field (8-of-32). They were within two points, however, largely because they were 6-for-6 from the foul line in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, Coastal Georgia was much better from the field, shooting 50 percent (17-of-34), but still finished the game shooting just 37.9 percent (25-of-66).
The Mariners shot just 26.1 percent (6 of 23) from the three-point line, but were 13-for-14 from the foul line for the game, which helped them overcome their struggles from the floor.
The largest lead of the game was seven points by Edward Waters late in the opening half. Coastal Georgia's biggest lead was four points late in the second period.
There were 18 ties in the game and 12 lead changes.
"We were fortunate to win. There were a lot of things we didn't do well at all," said Coastal Georgia's Cox. "Luckily, we did enough right to win."
|(6) Coastal Georgia vs||0|
|NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship Second Round|
|(11) Coastal Georgia vs||5|
|(RV) Asbury University||4|
|NAIA Men's Tennis National Championship|