The final score doesn’t do the game justice, as the first half was mostly an even contest.
The Pirates went into halftime trailing by just three points after a half court shot from Savannah State’s Ezinne Kalu banked in as time expired. Five minutes into the second half Savannah State went on a scorching 22-8 run that would stretch the lead to 80-60.
“I felt like we are not a team to give up that many points,” senior guard Dee Hayward said when asked about the big run. “It was a little disappointing, but it was a teaching point and moving forward we know that defense is the biggest thing that we have to work on. We have to show a little more heart in our defense, and bring the intensity everyday.”
Hayward would lead the Pirates in scoring for the night with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Preseason All Conference selection, Brigitta Barta, contributed a double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds, while Amber Howell chipped in 17 points.
Head coach, Fala Bullock, was pleased with the competitiveness, but notices that there are things that need to be fine-tuned. Bullock explained, “if we can concentrate on the team concept and being a defensive minded team we can be very good this season. We need our seniors to lead by example everyday and our team to buy in to the daily practices, that way we can be on the same page and together.”
On the men’s side, The Pirates were also defeated by the Savannah State Tigers 66-51. This was the third straight year that Savannah State took home the “Battle By The Marsh” trophy.
This game told a similar story as the women’s, the final score doesn’t tell how competitive the contest was. Armstrong went into the intermission trailing close behind, 27-20, in a mostly defensive oriented game.
Armstrong shot only 31 percent from the floor in the first half hitting just 9-of-29 shots, while Savannah State went 10-of-32 from the floor shooting 31 percent. In the second half, the Pirates shrunk the lead to just four, 37-33, with 12:22 remaining, but the Tigers then went on a 10-1 run to build a double digit lead that would secure the win for Savannah State.
The Pirates did win the battle on the glass, 41-40, despite having an undersized roster.
“My plan is to be quicker and a bit more tenacious defensively,” head coach Evans Davis said. “Hopefully this will speed up the game and help minimize any height advantage an opposing team may have.” Senior guard Kyle Callanan lead his team in assists last year and has big hopes for the upcoming regular season after finishing his first exhibition matchup. “We saw a lot of mistakes that we are correcting from the game that are going to make us better, but we saw some good things as well. The goal for this season is to get better each and every day and to try to win a ring.”