ATHENS- SEC play may not start for another three weeks, but Georgia head coach Dennis Felton has already seen a season’s worth of heart wrenching games.
After escaping with back-to-back wins on game winning shots in its previous two games, UGA got a taste of its own medicine Monday night against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Trailing 79-77 with 3.2-seconds remaining, Corpus Christi guard Kevin Palmer banked in a half-court prayer to give the Islanders the 80-79 overtime win at Stegeman Coliseum.
“We’ve had our share of game winning shots, so I guess this is karma coming back our way,” point guard Zac Swansey said. “It’s hard to just look at that play as the reason why we lost because we had so many turnovers and missed shots.”
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Starting the game, the Bulldogs’ made a point to establish defensive pressure.
Wrecking havoc on the Corpus Christi backcourt, Georgia forced 13 turnovers and held the Islanders to only 25 first half points.
“Our defensive was really aggressive starting out,” Felton said. “We took a double-digit lead in the first half but we weren’t able to put them away. We played the type of basketball that they wanted us to.”
Despite playing suffocating defense, however, the UGA offense was unable to find its rhythm.
Other than freshmen Dustin Ware and Trey Thompkins, who shot 5 for 8 from the field and combined for 13 first half points, the rest of the Bulldogs totaled 15-points on 5 of 22 shooting in the opening twenty-minutes.
Plagued by 12 turnovers of their own, Georgia managed to take just a 28-25 lead into the break.
Ware led all first half scorers with 9.
“We’ve had a hard time closing team’s out at the half,” Swansey said. “This is a team that we should have put away early and we just didn’t get the job done.”
Coming out of halftime, Georgia continued to struggle on the offensive end.
Converting on only 2 of its first 9 shots to open the second half, UGA was unable to put the visiting Islanders’ away.
Taking advantage of the Bulldogs’ shooting woes, Corpus Christi went on an 8-0 spurt midway through the second half to take its first lead at 41-40.
“Once they took that first lead, we knew it was going to come down to the wire,” Swansey said. “We just could never get into a groove offensively.”
After holding Corpus Christi without a shot in the final seconds of regulation, UGA seemed to have to momentum heading into overtime.
But the Bulldogs’ game-high 25 turnovers proved to be too much to overcome.
“As the point guard, I take the blame for how we played,” Swansey said. “It’s my job to make sure we take care of the ball and we didn’t get it done. This isn’t a game that we should lose.”