Panthers hang tough, denied Sweet Sixteen berth in NCAA

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The Sweet Sixteen. Los Angeles. A chance to continue its Cinderella run as the entire country embraced the story that Georgia State men’s basketball had become. All of that was on the line Saturday night in Jacksonville, but the Panthers were defeated by Xavier, 75-67 in the NCAA tournament’s third round.

The loss brings to a close what a history-making season for the team that included a Sun Belt title and a win in the tournament’s second round.

“I told [the players] not to be sad,” Head Coach Ron Hunter said to the media after the game. “What a great week. Unbelievable week. Especially for me, I’ll be honest with you. It was the greatest week of my life.”

Georgia State received a major outpouring of support from fans who made the short drive to Jacksonville to see their team play in the round of 32 vs. its Big East opponent from Cincinnati. Early on, it appeared the Musketeers would run away with the game and cruise its way to Southern California. They led 15-4 early before the Panthers came back, cutting their deficit to as little as two points, trailing 30-28 with under a minute to play in the first half. Xavier took a 32-28 advantage into halftime.

The Panthers managed to pull even with the Musketeers early in the second half, as they tied the game at 38. Eventually second-half shooting for Xavier was the difference. They shot over 80 percent from the field in the second half, spelling defeat for Georgia State.

Final Stats
Georgia State R.J. Hunter: 20 points, 3-8 threes, 6-15 shooting Markus Crider: 10 points, 5-8 shooting Curtis Washington: eight points, 4-5 shooting Kevin Ware: eight points, 3-4 shooting T.J. Shipes: eight points
Xavier Jalen Reynolds: 21 points, 8-9 shooting Myles Davis: 17 points, 5-8 threes Dee Davis: 15 points, 8-9 free throws Matt Stainbrook: nine points, 4-5 shooting Remy Abell: 4-5 free throws

After the game, fans, students, faculty, alumni, and even Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed took to social media, thanking the team for what this season meant to Georgia State and to the city.

About Akiem Bailum 285 Articles
Akiem Bailum - Sports Editor Fall 2014 - Spring 2015. Journalism major with a concentration in telecommunications. Class of 2015. Before becoming sports editor at The Signal, Akiem began his writing career at Georgia State in 2012. After a brief absence, he returned to The Signal in 2014. Akiem has covered Georgia State sports events on site for football, volleyball, basketball and softball games. His advice for future sports writers is to cover more than major sports and to attend as many events in person as possible. When away from the court or the field, Akiem's interests include studying the radio industry.

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