D’Marcus Simonds had 39 points but missed several key free throws to lift Georgia State (19-7, 10-3) over UL Monroe (11-12, 5-7) as the Panthers fell to the Warhawks 92-80 in overtime. Simonds went 8-12 from the free-throw line and failed to give his team the lead with 10 seconds remaining in the second half. However, head coach Ron Hunter mentioned the fact that his team simply didn’t play with much energy or enthusiasm against a Warhawks team that ranks in the lower tier of the Sun Belt Conference.
“Give ULM a lot of credit as they came in here and played hard,” Hunter said. “I’m disappointed in the way we played defensively, especially in the first half. We were a step slow with everything. We got things going in the second half, but it looked like we were just mentally tired, and it cost us.”
Outside of Simonds scoring at a high rate, the Panthers didn’t get much contribution offensively from their role players. Devin Mitchell and Jeff Thomas, who are valuable players for Hunter, combined for just 2-15 shooting from the floor with Mitchell scoring eight points. Malik Benlevi (11 points), Williams (10 points) and Jordan Session (14 points and 10 rebounds) were the only other Panthers to score in double figures.
Defensively, the Panthers were sluggish, and Monroe exposed their zone defense. Michael Ertel had 21 points and shot 3-6 from three. Sam McDaniel also had a productive game with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
The Panthers are still in prime position to remain atop the Sun Belt Conference and they face a tough opponent in Georgia Southern on the road on Friday. The Panthers defeated the Eagles in January, but they know this matchup will be much different with Tookie Brown in the lineup.
The two teams will square off at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2 in Statesboro, Ga.