While you were away: Women’s basketball

Senior guard Alisha Andrews helps lead the Lady Panthers to victory in the Sun Belt Conference. SUBMITTED PHOTO | GEORGIA STATE ATHLETICS

The winter break may have served as time away from the classroom, but the Georgia State women’s basketball team was still active on the court. Beginning with the Georgia State-hosted Holiday & Hoops Classic, the Panthers still had a lot of work to take care of as the team has since began Sun Belt play as we get closer to the tournament in March in New Orleans.

Dec. 19 vs. Massachusetts (71-66 win)

The Panthers’ slate of matchups over the winter break began with a game at the Sports Arena against the UMass Minutewomen to kick off the annual Holiday and Hoops Classic. Georgia State prevailed over the Minutewomen by a final of 71-66 that increased the team’s record to 5-3 on the season.

It was the first collegiate start for freshman guard Makeba Ponder, who recorded 17 points and made five of her nine three-point shots. Kayla Nolan also ended the game with 17 points while Brittany Logan recorded a double-double with 16 points along with 11 rebounds.

Dec. 20 vs. La Salle (76-68 loss)

With Georgia State defeating UMass and the La Salle Explorers defeating Ohio, this set up a matchup between the Panthers and Explorers in the championship game of the Holiday and Hoops Classic. Ultimately, it would be La Salle who would prevail at the Sports Arena by a final score of 76-68.

A late La Salle rally had propelled their team to victory as they scored 20 of the game’s final 28 points after the Panthers had a 60-56 lead. The Explorers’ freshman forward Micahya Owens led her team with 20 points. Ponder finished with 22 and Logan had 20 points plus 11 rebounds.

After the game, both Ponder and Logan represented the Panthers on the All-Holiday and Hoops Classic Team.

Dec. 30 vs. UL-Monroe (80-72 win)

After a ten-day layoff due to the Christmas holiday, Georgia State took the court once again two days before the new year. This time, it would be to begin Sun Belt Conference play as they took on the Warhawks of UL-Monroe. This one would see the Panthers prevail by a final score of 80-72.

Georgia State would see a balanced scoring attack as four players finished with double-digit points. Ponder led all scorers with 20 points. Logan recorded another double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. The Panthers would also see an 11 point outing from Ashley Watson with nine of her 11 coming from the free throw line. Nolan finished with 10 points.

It was also the first game back after a four-game suspension for senior point guard Alisha Andrews. The suspension came for a violation of team rules.

Jan. 3 vs. UALR (75-55 loss)

The next conference test for Georgia State would come in the form of a home matchup against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans. The Panthers suffered their first conference loss of the season as UALR defeated Georgia State by a final of 75-55.

Midway through the first half, the Panthers led 19-17 before the Trojans closed the half out with a 22-7 run leading 39-26 at the half. UALR never looked back as they cruised to a 20-point victory.

Four Trojans finished with double-digit points. Only Andrews got to double-digits for points for the Panthers with 11. Logan only played 11 minutes as she found herself in foul trouble early.

Jan. 5 vs. Texas State (74-69 win)

A couple of days later, Georgia State faced off against the Texas State Bobcats, the team that prior to the start of the season was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt. The Panthers would earn their second win of the Sun Belt schedule with a 74-69 win over the Bobcats.

As was the case in their previous victory over the Warhawks, the Panthers rode a balanced scoring effort to a victory as four players finished with double-digits, including Ashlee Cole who put in 12 off the bench. Nolan had 14, Logan contributed 13 along with 11 rebounds and Kennesha Nichols finished with 10 points.

Jan. 8 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (68-52 loss)

Two days later after topping Texas State, the Panthers then took to the road to face Louisiana-Lafayette. Georgia State would suffer a 68-52 defeat to the Ragin’ Cajuns in a game that for the majority of it was not close.

Instrumental in the Panthers’ defeat to UL-Lafayette was the amount of turnovers they committed. Georgia State turned the ball over 24 times and the Ragin’ Cajuns scored 28 points off those turnovers. The Panthers did not have a player that finished with double-digit points.

Jan. 10 vs. Troy (96-87 loss)

The Panthers’ next test saw them face off at home against the Troy Trojans at the Sports Arena. The two teams would battle each to a high-scoring contest that would see Troy prevail by a final score of 96-87.

Georgia State and Troy traded points for much of the game, but the Trojans rode a 13-3 run to close out the game en route to the victory. Troy’s senior guard Kourtney Coleman led her team with 27 points and made six threes. Ponder’s 22 led the Panthers.