In the most highly anticipated game of the season, the Georgia State Panthers were able to secure a crucial win on senior day in front of a sold out crowd against in-state foe Georgia Southern, 72-67.
It was a back-and-forth battle early on in the first half, as both teams struggled to find their offense.
While seniors Jeremy Hollowell, 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Willie Clayton, 5 points and 10 rebounds, collectively had a solid performance, it was freshman D’Marcus Simonds who ultimately rallied the Panthers to a victory.
“Georgia State-Georgia Southern didn’t disappoint once again,” Georgia State Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ron Hunter said. “Nothing like playing in-state games this time of year. Coach Byington has done a great job with their program, but I love what this does for the state of Georgia. I thought our guys played hard. D’Marcus was tremendous in the second half. However, it was our defense that won this game for us once again.”
Both the Panthers and the Eagles applied pressure defensively, as the Panthers had 20 turnovers while turning the Eagles over 11 times.
The two teams also combined for 15 lead changes and eight ties.
The Panthers shot 0 percent from the free throw line in the first half simply because the team didn’t have one attempt from the foul line the entire half.
Simonds was the leading scorer for the Panthers with 21 points, and Jeff Thomas came up big during the game with 16 points. He went a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc.
For the Eagles, Ike Smith who scored 27 points, got off to an incredibly hot start, and it lasted throughout the duration of the game. Tookie Brown added 11 points for the Eagles.
The game down to the wire in the second half, but Simonds knocked down a huge 3-pointer with 5:18 left to play and gave Georgia State a 63-61 lead.
Georgia State would maintain that lead for the rest of the game.
Georgia State opens the Sun Belt Conference tournament in New Orleans on Friday at Lakepoint Arena as the No. 2 seed. Potential opponents will be determined later Saturday night.
With the win against Georgia Southern, Georgia State will enter the Sun Belt tournament in New Orleans on Friday as the No. 2 seed. Their opponent has yet to be determined.