The 2014-15 season was an exciting season to follow Georgia State Athletics, and not just because the men’s basketball team made an NCAA tournament appearance.
Panther sports from basketball to volleyball all provided memorable moments that made The Signal’s list of best moments in Georgia State sports for this year. Here are some moments you may want to remember.
10. That’s so Ravin
The Panthers added another individual Sun Belt champion to its total for the year in the ranks of track and field or cross country on Feb. 24.
Ravin Gilbert, a junior sprinter, won the 60-meter dash at the conference championships in Birmingham, Alabama as she finished the course with a time of 7.48 seconds. Gilbert finished only .03 seconds ahead of second-place Kristina Knott of Arkansas State en route to her conference title.
9. Flying the colors
The women’s soccer team also made history in 2014 when freshman forward Taina Anglade was invited to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to train with the Haitian National Team.
Anglade became the first women’s soccer player in Georgia State history to be given the opportunity to take the soccer pitch for an international squad. She started all of the Panthers’ 20 games this season in her true freshman season. She also assisted the Panthers defense to six shutouts and a Sun Belt tournament berth in 2014.
8. Albert heads to Arrowhead
In 2014, former Panthers wide receiver Albert Wilson was a sought after NFL prospect even though he entered the league as an undrafted free agent. He was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs and managed to not get cut as teams cut their rosters down to 53 in time for the regular season. Wilson, who wore number two with Georgia State, wore number 12 in Kansas City.
In his first year, Wilson caught 16 passes for 260 yards. Wilson became the seventh Georgia State Panther to enter the ranks of the NFL in only the fifth year of the beleaguered football program.
7. Going pro for his hometown
The 2014-15 season was the senior year for Georgia State men’s soccer goalkeeper C.J. Cochran. He ended his career at third all-time in school history in shutouts with 11. He was also sixth in Georgia State history in saves with 188.
This was not lost among the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League [NASL]. In the middle of March, it was announced that the Silverbacks had signed Cochran to a professional contract.
Cochran became the second men’s soccer player that donned Panthers blue and white to make a transition to minors. The first was Michael Nwiloh, who was with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer [MLS] before that team closed operations.
6. Any given Wednesday
Ever since Georgia State became a Division I school in football, the program has been associated with one thing: Losing. For one night in August at the Georgia Dome, that changed as the Panthers defeated the Abilene Christian Wildcats by a final score of 38-37 in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
At one point in the game, the Wildcats led 30-21, leading some in the stands to head for the exit. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle led Georgia State on a ferocious rally, culminating in a 26-yard Wil Lutz field goal. This sent the Panthers to victory in front of their home fans.
5. Never give up
All’s well that ends well. Georgia State volleyball proved this to be true when they earned a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Troy Trojans on Nov. 21, clinching a Sun Belt tournament berth for the Panthers under new Head Coach Sally Polhamus.
Down two sets to the Trojans, who were in last place in the Sun Belt, Georgia State won the fourth set 25-22. Troy forced match point in the fifth set at 14-10 before the Panthers closed the match on a 6-0, culminating in a match-winning kill by junior Brianna Jones. This sent Georgia State to the 3-2 win over the Trojans and to the conference tournament in San Marcos, Texas.
4. All they do is win
Georgia State’s softball team came into the 2015 season with heightened expectations after a 2014 campaign that saw them finish fourth in the Sun Belt. Earlier in the season, it not only appeared that the Panthers were living up to expectations, but that they were surpassing them.
The Panthers notched a 13-4 road victory at Texas State on March 14, improving the team’s record to 18-2. It also improved Georgia State’s win streak at the time to 15 consecutive games. It was the second game of a doubleheader where the Panthers upped its win streak to 15, as freshman sensation Ivie Drake led the team with four home runs in two games.
3. Climbing the ladder
The site was the University of South Alabama in Mobile. At the Sun Belt Cross Country Championships, senior Hannah Stefanoff capped off her collegiate cross country career by winning an individual conference championship.
She timed in at 16:57.7 minutes in the championships, a 5,000 meter race.
Stefanoff finished ninth in the event as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and third as a junior before claiming the conference crown as a senior.
2. Sun Belt champions
“Unfinished Business” was the theme for Georgia State men’s basketball in 2014-15. The Panthers took care of business on March 15 at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. Georgia State played Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt title game.
In a game that turned out to be a defensive struggle, Hunter made two free throws with 21.6 seconds left, allowing Georgia State to pull ahead by two at 38-36, as the Eagles missed two three-point attempts. The Panthers celebrated winning the Sun Belt title and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
1. One shining moment
This one not only tops the list of highlights for Georgia State sports this year, but it also has to be one of the biggest highlights for the Panthers in school history.
Down 56-44 to the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Georgia State closed the game with a 13-0 run capped off by R.J. Hunter’s 30-foot three-pointer, lifting the Panthers to a 57-56 win over the three-seeded Bears. The shot sent Panther fans into jubilation — and Head Coach Ron Hunter onto the floor at Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena. (He was coaching from a now famous chair after injuring his achilles previously in the Sun Belt championship game.)
What a 2014-15 season it was to follow Georgia State sports. If next season is similar to this year, more newsworthy happenings are in store for Panthers blue and white.