Panthers upset Baylor in NCAA

At the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Georgia State men’s basketball closed the game on a 13-0 run, upsetting the Baylor Bears by a final score of 57-56.

“It was a great game, but I’m not going to be coach right now. I’m going to be dad right now,” head coach Ron Hunter said after the game. “These kids are so resilient. Really resilient.”

With four seconds remaining, R.J. Hunter made a long three-point shot, giving the Panthers a 57-56 lead–the team’s first lead since midway through the second half.

“I was assertive as possible, I just wasn’t trying to force anything,” R.J. Hunter said. “We just fought to the end.”

First Half

One minute in, junior forward Rico Gathers got Baylor on the board with a dunk as redshirt freshman forward Johnathan Motley was credited with an assist. Markus Crider answered with a dunk of his own, tying the score at two apiece before Motley scored his first two points of the game, giving Baylor a 4-2 lead.

With the score at 6-4 in the Bears’ favor, senior forward Royce O’Neale made a three-pointer that was followed by Gathers scoring two more after Baylor grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds. Baylor took an 11-4 lead.

After Curtis Washington’s first pair of points of the game, O’Neale made his second three, then Motley upped his point output to four, giving the Bears a 16-6 lead, and prompting a Panthers timeout.

Crider later increased his point output to four, cutting Georgia State’s deficit to eight at 16-8. Gathers then drew a foul on Crider, but only made one of two from the line, making it a 17-8 game.

Georgia State then began forcing turnovers and converting Baylor miscues into offense as three turnovers turned into Crider, R.J. Hunter, and Isaiah Dennis layups. The 6-0 run made it a 17-14 game.

Motley increased his point output to six, extending the Bears’ lead to 19-14. Dennis responded with a two-pointer, then Ryann Green made his first three of the game, tying the game at 19 as Baylor called its second timeout.

Junior forward Taurean Prince made a three off the timeout, giving the Bears the lead again at 22-19.

With Baylor leading 24-21, Green made his second three, tying the game again at 24.

Both teams would tie at 26. Washington made one of two from the line after Gathers fouled him. Dennis’ fifth and sixth points extended Georgia State’s lead to 29-26. Senior Bears guard Kenny Chery scored his fifth and sixth points, bringing Baylor within one at 29-28.

T.J. Shipes later made one of two from the line after Gathers fouled him. Prince scored five straight points, closing the period as Baylor assumed a 33-30 lead into halftime.

Second Half

The second half began with a Panthers steal that became a Ware layup, cutting Georgia State’s deficit to 33-32. Chery scored his seventh, eighth, and ninth points, making it a 36-32 game. Prince scored two more extending it to a 38-32 lead before Green made another three, cutting the Panthers’ deficit to 38-35.

Prince answered with two more, extending Baylor’s lead to 40-35. He then fouled Hunter who made two from the line. Crider then scored four straight points, giving the Panthers a 41-40 lead.

Junior guard Lester Medford converted on a layup, making it ai 42-41 game. Motley later fouled Dennis, but he made only one of two from the line, tying the game at 42.

Prince scored four straight Baylor points as the Bears took a 46-42 lead with over eight minutes to play. O’Neale extended the run to 7-0 with a three and the lead to 49-42 as Georgia State called timeout. Medford, with over six minutes left, made a three, extending the Bears’ lead to 52-42.

Baylor then led by margins of 54-44 and 56-46. Hunter then scored seven straight points, cutting the Bears’ lead to three at 56-53. Dennis made one of two from the line, making the score 56-54.

With four seconds left, Hunter made a long three, giving the Panthers a 57-56 lead, a lead Georgia State would hold on to as time expired.

The Panthers’ next game will be Saturday vs. the winner of the second-round tournament matchup between 11-seed Ole Miss and six-seed Xavier.

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