Panthers qualify for Sun Belt tournament in New Orleans

Georgia State men’s basketball qualified for the Sun Belt tournament next month in New Orleans with a 79-51 victory over the South Alabama Jaguars at the Sports Arena on Thursday night. The Panthers’ record improves to 18-8 along with an 11-4 mark in conference play.

The Panthers were once again somewhat shorthanded as they played another game without Ryan Harrow (concussion-like symptoms). Georgia State got major contributions from R.J. Hunter and Markus Crider who had 28 and 21 points, respectively.

First Half

The first points of the game would be scored by Georgia State with a fastbreak layup by Markus Crider. He would then be fouled by Jaguars junior guard Barrington Stevens. A made free throw by Crider gave the Panthers an early 3-0 lead.

Freshman South Alabama forward Abdul Lewis gave the Jaguars their first points of the game with a layup before a three by Hunter extended the early Georgia State lead to 6-2. That lead became 9-2 after a layup and made free throw by Hunter after a foul charged to sophomore guard Ken Williams.

Williams made up for his foul of Hunter with a three-pointer bringing the Jaguars within four at 9-5 before two points by Kevin Ware made it an 11-5 game. The Panthers then gave a three from Ryann Green, extending their lead to 14-5.

Senior South Alabama forward Dionte Ferguson then placed a two-point jumper, cutting their deficit to 14-7 before Hunter’s second and third threes extended the Georgia State advantage to 20-7.

One minute later, Curtis Washington was charged with a foul against sophomore forward Georgi Boyanov. He only made one of his two shots from the line prior to dunks from Washington and Isaiah Dennis, giving the Panthers a 24-8 advantage.

A three from freshman South Alabama guard Taishaun Johnson along with a layup by Dionte Ferguson, allowing the Jaguars to close within 24-13. After a layup from Crider, the Panthers’ lead increased to 26-13 before five straight points by Johnson trimmed South Alabama’s deficit to 26-18.

The Panthers’ lead became 28-18 with another jump shot by Hunter. Green would later be charged with a foul against Williams, who would only make one of two from the line, making the score 28-19.

Georgia State maintained its nine-point advantage with leads of 30-21 and 32-23. Johnson then fouled Jordan Session sending him to the line.

A jumper from Hunter made it a 36-28 game heading into the halftime period.

Second Half

Hunter would be responsible for Georgia State’s first points of the second half with a three making the score 39-28.

With the score at 41-32 in the Panthers’ favor, an 8-0 Georgia State run that included six points by Crider and two from Kevin Ware made it a 49-32 game.

Two free throws from Dennis and four more points by Hunter extended the lead to 55-36 in Georgia State’s favor.

A Williams three and two free throws from Boyanov off a foul against Session gave South Alabama 14 at 55-41.

The scoreboard would later read 57-43 with the Panthers ahead. A Hunter layup and free throw after a foul by Brown upped the Georgia State lead to 60-43. Five consecutive points by Session along with a layup from Crider equaled a 10-0 run, expanding the Panthers lead to 67-43.

Four straight points from Boyanov along with two more free throws from Ferguson gave South Alabama 67-49 with over five minutes remaining. Two free throws by Johnson after a foul charged against Session gave the Jaguars 16 at 67-51 before Georgia State closed the game.

The Panthers won by a final of 79-51. Georgia State will take to the court on Saturday from the Sports Arena. They take on Appalachian State at 2 p.m.

Final Stats
Georgia State South Alabama
Hunter: 28 points, 9-19 shooting Crider: 21 points, 9-17 shooting
Johnson: 19 points, 14-16 free throws Williams: 9 points