Georgia State’s valiant effort not enough against top-seeded Zags

After an amazing end to the regular season and leaving the nation on the edge of their seats for 30 minutes, the Panthers’ season comes to an end.

The Georgia State Panthers fall to the Gonzaga Bulldogs 72-93 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, in what would be a hard-fought game filled with emotions. 

This was the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Panthers in the team’s history. 

Entering the tournament, the Panthers were one of the hottest teams in the country, as they won 10 straight games. 

The Panthers came into the game as underdogs, after the committee ranked them the 16th seed in the tournament, putting them against the number one overall seed in Gonzaga. 

This was a tall order for the Panthers as they faced the challenge of going against two of the best big men in the country, in two-time Consensus second-team All-American Drew Timme and potential number one pick in the 2022 NBA Draft Chet Holmgren. 

Early in the game the Panthers were able to keep up with the number one seeded Bulldogs but saw themselves in foul trouble which would ultimately alter their gameplan. 

In the first half, the biggest lead was five points before it came to a close with the Zags up 33-35. 

In the second half, the Bulldogs’ size would become too overwhelming for the Panthers, especially after the heart and soul of the team, senior big man Eliel Nsoseme went down in the first half with an apparent knee injury and did not return. 

In what would be their last collegiate game together, senior guards Kane Williams, Corey Allen and Justin Roberts scored a combined 49 points for the Panthers. 

Forward Jalen Thomas had a solid contribution, as he scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked two shots. 

The Panthers put up a valiant effort in this one and put the country on notice with their performance. 

Even in tough loss Head Coach Rob Lanier was still proud of what his guys were able to accomplish this season. 

“I’m really proud of these guys, not just for their effort tonight but also for their overall contributions for our program”, Lanier said. “They’ve laid a foundation for us that we will have an opportunity to build on, and also for the type of young men that they are, I love them and I’ve enjoyed them.”

In his first NCAA Tournament appearance, senior guard Justin Roberts was grateful for the opportunity and the chance to play in the tournament. 

“It felt very natural,” said Roberts. “It was my first time playing in the NCAA Tournament, I got a lot of friends and family who wished me luck, but the most important thing for me was going out there and playing for my team and coaches.”

With four starters gone next year, who knows what the future holds for the Panthers next season. 

Head Coach Rob Lanier has the tough task of putting together a team next year that can compete in a Sun Belt Conference that continues to improve every season.