Georgia State Panthers fall to Georgia Southern Eagles 81-62 in Sun Belt Conference Tournament

Kane Williams walks off court after Wednesday nights loss against Georgia Southern. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

For the second time in two weeks, the Georgia State Panthers men’s basketball team fell short against the Georgia Southern Eagles. The 81-62 loss sent Panther fans home earlier than expected, and they will not be returning to the Georgia State Sports Arena for quite some time as this one ended the season.

Many will use the team’s lack of experience and age as an excuse. Panthers head coach Rob Lanier brought up a different point in his postgame press conference.

“We just aren’t ready for primetime just yet,” Lanier said. “Georgia Southern was the veteran team, and they made plays.” 

He could barely speak after losing his voice during the game from how animated he was.

The previous drubbing by Georgia Southern was supposed to be a wakeup call, but the Panthers left the alarm on snooze. 

Three-point shooting was hard to come by for the Panthers as by halftime; they were only 3-13 from deep. The Panthers overall shot 38% and only 14% from deep. 

“They [Georgia Southern] were the better team tonight.” head coach Rob Lanier said.

The Eagles out muscled Georgia State for most of the game led by Isaiah Crawley and Calvin Wishart. Georgia Southern outplayed the Panthers in every way, and the had Eagles fans waving goodbye to Panther fans.

After going up by 20 with just over three minutes remaining, the Eagles could taste victory. The Eagles defense held the top-scoring offense to under 60 points for most of the second half. The loss tonight will be something the team can build from, but games like this could damage a program long term. 

The Panthers ended the game at -19 efficiency rating the worst rating for the team and one of the worst ratings in conference tournament history.

Panther stars Damon Wilson and Justin Roberts were held in check for most of the game as both struggled to find a rhythm. Georgia State also struggled from deep shooting under 40% from three most of the game. 

The lone Panther who seemed comfortable in the atmosphere was junior guard Kane Williams. He scored 20 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. 

The defense also struggled as the Eagles were able to get offensive rebounds at will. Georgia State failed to make any stops to turn the game in their favor.

Overall the top scoring offense in the conference looked lost as the Eagles outrebounded the team and halted any run the Panthers made in the game.

While the Panthers can hold their heads up finishing higher than many expected, Rob Lanier has his work cut out for him going into the offseason. This game represented the season for the Panthers as they started strong, but unraveled at the end.

The offseason will allow Lanier, the coaching staff and returning players to take time off before embarking on another season of basketball.