The Georgia State Panthers (4-6) were able to sneak by the Old Dominion Monarchs (4-6) in the final two minutes of the game to claim a 79-73 victory Saturday at the Sports Arena.
After six lead changes and 11 ties, Georgia State defeated its former conference foe from the Colonial Athletic Association.
Panthers head coach Ron Hunter said the team was able to make plays when it mattered, despite shooting under 38 percent from the floor.
“This is a win that we defiantly needed,” Hunter said. “We were able to step up and make free throws when we needed to…we made plays when we wanted to.”
Junior guard Ryan Harrow gave his second best offensive performance as a Panther this season leading the team to victory scoring 33 points while picking up three assists and two steals. Harrow’s best was 34 points against Elon last month.
“We just wanted to go out there and do whatever we had to do this time to win, especially being home,” Harrow said.
Harrow made 14-of-15 at the free throw line capitalizing on the 28 personal fouls commited from the Monarchs.
Harrow’s shots fell at the right time as he made 10 of his points in the final four minutes of the game, mostly at the line.
“I would like the ball to be in my hands because I’m confident in myself,” Harrow said about having the ball in crucial moments, “but I’m confident in my other teammates, as well.”
Old Dominion controlled the first half only trailing twice but leading by only as many as six points.
Sophomore guard Aaron Bacote consistently found a way to get open around the Panthers zone defense allowing him to make 5-of-7 3-pointers.
Bacote went 4-for-4 at the line giving him 21 points to end the day.
Bacote committed his fourth foul early in the second half forcing him to sit most of the second half. However, that did not slow down the Monarchs offense in the least bit.
“That’s just part of it. Their player was out, our player was out,” Hunter said pointing out that Curtis Washington sat most of the first half because of foul trouble, as well.
“I think it would have been a different first half if [Washington] had played. [Washington’s] a major part of our defense,” Hunter said.
The Panthers struggled to get rebounds most of the game losing the rebounding battle 31-23.
The Panthers were able to get rebounds in the final minutes of the game as Manny Atkins, Curtis Washington and Harrow all picked up rebounds in the final minute and a half to hold on to the victory.
“I thought the defense was good enough to win us the game because if we didn’t get those four stops in a row, we don’t win the game,” Hunter said.
The Panthers had 12 steals in the game and 24 points off of turnovers giving Hunter reason to believe his defense is picking up.
“We still haven’t gotten to where all the guys click at one time, we’re still waiting for that explosion, as we call it.”
The Panthers were coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss suffered on the road last week to Southern Miss.
Hunter said it felt good being back at home and was proud of his team picking up their first victory against a Division-I opponent at home this season.
The Panthers victory over the Monarchs was the third-straight in the series history. Last season, the Panthers defeated the Monarchs twice on the road and at home, respectively. Old Dominion leads all-time, however, 15-5.
The Panthers now prepare for one of their biggest games of the season against in-state rival Georgia Southern.
The game is at home for the Panthers Friday at 7 p.m.