The Lee University basketball teams made their 2013 home debuts exciting ones Saturday as the fifth-ranked Lady Flames rallied in the final minutes for a three-point victory, while the No. 7 Flames were on fire, but had to hold off a determined group from Southern States Athletic Conference newcomer Coastal Georgia.
When a game is on the line, coach Marty Rowe makes no bones about it, he wants the basketball in the hands of his junior guard Hollie German.
German scored 25 of her 32 points in the second half as the Lady Flames turned back a determined Coastal Georgia team, 72-69.
The All-American tallied 10 of Lee’s final 11 points as the Lady Flames battled back from a three-point deficit with only 1:38 remaining to post the thrilling SSAC victory.
With the Lady Flames down by four, German nailed a 3-pointer to cut the margin to one point with 58 seconds left. Rachel Lockhart converted 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 65.
The visiting Mariners came right back to grab a one-point lead on a field goal by Margaret Harvey. The never-say-die Lady Flames came right back and German missed a 3-point attempt. Karley Miller was there to grab the rebound and quickly pushed the ball out behind the 3-point arc. The ball went to German and she drove off a screen by Miller and nailed a key 3-pointer to put Lee up for good.
Coastal Georgia was not about to quit. The Mariners got a final shot to try to take the lead but Harvey’s attempt failed. German iced the win by making four straight free throws.
“Our girls know we want the ball in Hollie’s hands in these types of situations,” said Rowe who had nothing but praise for the visiting Coastal Georgia team. He quickly noted that the rebound by Miller was huge and that she popped out to set a screen to help ice the victory.
German was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line and 3-of-4 from behind the arc. She also led the Lady Flames with six assists. Jenna Adams got the Lady Flames off to a quick start in the opening half and finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Miller added seven points, six rebounds and totaled four steals. Freshman Christina Johnson grabbed six rebounds to tie Miller for the lead in that department and she also drew praise from Rowe with her reserve play.
The Lady Flames led only 30-29 at the half but Coastal Georgia got a quick start in the second 20 minutes and led by eight at the 16:24 mark. The contest was tied 12 times and there were 13 lead changes.
“Coastal Georgia has an outstanding basketball team and coach (Betsy) Harris does an outstanding job. We have to face this team at least once or maybe twice more and it’s not going to be easy.”
The Mariners had five players in double-figure scoring. Olivia Melvin was the leader with 16. Maria Marshall tallied 13 and grabbed nine rebounds. Harvey finished with 12, while Crystal Chaney and Janne Tullius pitched in with 10 apiece.
The Lady Flames shot 48 percent overall (25-of-52) and made 8-of-18 3-pointers (44 percent). They converted 14-of-21 free throws. Coastal Georgia shot 40 percent from the field, 37 percent from behind the arc and almost won the game at the charity stripe, canning 19-of-22. The Lady Flames won the rebounding battle against the taller Mariners, 35-28.
The Lady Flames improved to 15-1 on the year and 6-1 in conference play. Coastal Georgia dropped to 14-4 and 6-2 in league action. Lee faces another tough test next Thursday when it hosts Emmanuel College in the opening game of a doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m.
FLAMES 89, MARINERS 78
In their first game at home since Dec. 6 the Lee men’s basketball team did not disappoint, defeating the College of Coastal Georgia 89-78 Saturday evening at Walker Arena.
The Flames (15-1, 7-1) were getting their first look Coastal Georgia (4-14, 2-6).
Lee held a 31-26 advantage at the intermission but came out in the second half shooting a sizzling 68 percent from the field (22-of-32) to pull out the 11-point victory.
“I was disappointed in our first half play,” said Coach Tommy Brown. “We didn’t have a sense of urgency the entire game. We would get up big and then let them right back into the game. That is an area that we must improve on if we want to be considered a top team.”
Lee shot 58.6 percent from the field (34-of-58) and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line (6-of-18). The Flames were also very solid from the charity stripe hitting 15-of-17 freebies, including a perfect 11-of-11 in the second half. The Mariners shot 39.1 percent from the field for the game (27-of-69), they did most of their damage from behind-the-arc, going 11-of-20 from 3-point distance (55 percent).
“I expected a high scoring game the entire way through but I looked up and saw the score was 11-9 half way through the first half,” noted Brown.
Lee won the battle on the boards, outrebounding the Mariners 41-32. The Flames were guilty of 18 floor mistakes while Coastal Georgia turned the ball over 12 times. A key to the contest was scoring in the paint. Lee had 54 points down low compared to just 28 for the Mariners.
The Flames were led by senior Will Barnes who scored a game-high 23 points to go along with six rebounds. Junior Jamorris Gaines, playing in his first home game since joining the team after the semester break, finished with 20 points.
Senior Duran Blue bounced back after missing Thursday’s game with a very balanced performance registering seven markers, eight assists and five rebounds. Senior Steve Bennett also returned after missing the previous game adding six points and pulling down eight boards. Sophomore Chad Lee had six points and swarmed around the court to grab nine rebounds.
“I was very pleased with the way Duran Blue returned to lead the team,” noted Brown. “Pat (Shaughnessy) also continues to improve each and every game and always gives us good hustle play.”
Shaughnessy finished with eight points and five rebounds. Sophomore Corey Billingsley made it three Flames in double-figures as he registered 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field.
The Mariners were led by Kentorey Johnson who managed a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. P.J. Reason had 16 points and Jevan Billingers finished with 10 for the Georgia based club.
Coach Brown and the Flames now set their sights on a busy upcoming week of action that begins with a trip to rival Tennessee Temple Monday evening in Chattanooga. Action will get under way at 7 p.m.
“This is a Temple team that has already defeated North Alabama (NCAA Division II),” noted Brown.
After Monday’s road test Lee will head back home to host SSAC rival No. 20 Emmanuel College (16-2, 5-1) on Thursday evening.
“Emmanuel looks to have the best team they’ve ever had,” said Brown.
Tip time is set for 8 p.m. at Walker Arena.