The events were, probably in order of severity:
1) Evil dice. As always. laurie_robey consistently rolled 15+ for the enemy attacks, and it was a critical hit that dropped Martin (the smuggler) in one shot. Meanwhile, we rolled absolute junk. I managed to successfully activate my Battlemind skill ... that was the only thing I rolled above a 7.
2) An overwhelming encounter. Our party was one 3rd level character and two 2nd level ones, dropped into a surprise combat with six 'challenge code B' thugs with no prep or buff time at all. In D&D terms, this is a party of EL 1.7 in a EL 7 encounter -- owie! This adventure is designed for 4 characters of levels 4-5 ... or a party EL of 4.5. Still a tough encounter, but not quite so OMG hard. But as we'd been rolling over most of the encounters we'd had up until then, laurie_robey figured we could handle it. (Which, chances are, we probably could have with some less hostile dice.)
3) Unfavorable conditions. The encounter took place in one teeny room with no cover or features, meaning there was nothing for us to duck behind, and no way for my melee-centric character to really take advantage of the terrain or anything like that. Laurie tells me that she expected us to backpedal out of the room once we saw what we were up against, and if the critical hit on Martin had just been a regular hit, making both he and I hurt, we probably would have done so. As it was, I was staying there to try to pull him out of the fire.
Laurie rescued the game from TPK by having the Wookiees show up and overpower the opposition, which is preferable to "and then you die, game over" but as she said on the way home it would have been more satisfying for the players if we'd played it out the rest of the way (with wookiees providing cover fire so we could escape) rather than her just shutting down the encounter right there with the announcement that the cavalry had arrived.
The good news is that from that point forward she, in her own words, "threw away the script and made up the rest" -- and from there on it improved dramatically. She created a new ending with an unexpected ship combat completely on the fly, and we all got to show off our specialties. Martin flew circles around the main villain, Rumzhin (hantamouse's squib) got to use the "Vehicle Weapon Familiarity" he just burned a feat on, and I got to be dramatically heroic by going EVA on a tether to rescue the schnook when a botched pilot roll sent the villain's ship into a tailspin doomed to end as a fiery ball on the side of a mountain.
So a good time was had by all, and Laurie, neophyte GM that she still is, managed to snatch a good session out of the jaws of a potential disaster. You go, girl! =)
EDIT: Level-up time!
Khent Devto (Human Jedi Guardian 3)
Senses Force Sensitive | Listen +1, Spot +1
Defense 14 (FF 14, Touch 14)
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +3
Atk +5 base melee, +3 base ranged; Grapple +5;
+5 melee lightsaber 2d8+2/19-20 OR
+2 melee lightsaber 2d8+2/19-20 + DEF 17 Expertise OR
+3 ranged blaster pistol 3d6
Jedi Guardian Features: Deflect (defense +1, attack -4)
Abilities: STR 14/+2, DEX 10/+0, CON 14/+2, INT 14/+2, WIS 12/+1, CHA 10/+0
Feats: Combat Expertise, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (lightsaber), Heroic Surge, Quickness, Weapon Group Proficiencies (Blaster Pistols, Simple Weapons)
Force Feats: Alter, Attuned, Control, Force-Sensitive
Skills: Balance +4, Climb +5, Computer Use +4, Craft (lightsaber) +3, Intimidate +4, Jump +5, Knowledge (Jedi lore) +5, Tumble +5
Force Skills: Affect Mind +3, Battlemind +7, Enhance Ability +7, Heal Self +6, Move Object +6
Possessions: lightsaber, comlink, Cr 200