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ATLANTA-With six players in double figures, Georgia State topped Louisiana 106-92 in a battle of the top two teams in the Sun Belt on Thursday night at the GSU Sports Arena.
Georgia State (19-6, 10-2 Sun Belt) won for the 10th-straight time and moved to within a half-game of Louisiana (20-4, 10-1 Sun Belt) which saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end. Neither team had lost a game in 2018 entering play. The 10-game streak is the third-longest in school history and among the top 10 in the NCAA. The Panthers topped Louisiana for the fifth-straight time.
Senior Jordan Session finished with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while sophomore D’Marcus Simonds just missed a triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
The 106 points scored are the most-ever for Georgia State in a Sun Belt game and marked the first time going over the century mark since putting up 101 on the Ragin’ Cajuns in Louisiana last January.
It marked the first time since 2004 in which Georgia State saw six players finish in double figures and just the fifth time that three players have scored 20 points in the same game for the Panthers.
“Just really proud of my guys,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We didn’t shy away with what this game meant tonight. We feel like we are already in conference tournament mode and that ever game is a must-win. I thought our guys were locked in, even though I wasn’t necessarily happy with how we played defense. We shot the ball well and made stops when we needed to and that is all I can ask.”
Junior Malik Benlevi garnered his fourth double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Jeff Thomas added 18 points going a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
Georgia State opened the game taking an early 9-4 lead as Devin Mitchell hit an early 3-pointer to keep his hot hand after scoring 38 against Little Rock last Saturday. The junior finished tonight’s game with 20 points, going 7-of-11 from the floor including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
Louisiana took its lone lead of the game, 12-11, with 14:09 to play in the first half following a 3-pointer by Frank Bartley.
Georgia State immediately responded with an 8-0 run to take a 19-12 lead as Session had 10 points in the first eight minutes.
Leading 22-20, Georgia State used another 8-0 run to push the lead to 30-20 with just over seven minutes to play.
Making 11-straight field goals, the Panthers pushed the lead to 51-40 and went into the locker room with a 51-45 lead.
The Panthers shot 60.6 percent in the first half as Session scored 16 points to earn a career-high before the break.
A free throw by Simonds with 14:28 pushed the lead back into double figures for the Panthers which led 67-56. Isaiah Williams then came off the bench to score six-straight points to give Georgia State a 73-61 lead with 12:01 to play. The senior finished with 11 points in just 19 minutes of action.
Minutes later Mitchell hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Georgia State pushed the lead to 81-64.
Trailing by 19, Louisiana used a 7-0 run to cut Georgia State’s lead to 91-79 with 4:20 to play before a Mitchell jumper in the lane ended the run.
Georgia State finished the game outrebounding Louisiana 43-33 and went 20-of-23 from the free throw line.
Louisiana finished with five in double figures led by Frank Bartley who scored 21 points and JaKeenan Gant who added 18.
The Panthers finished the game shooting 54.4 percent from the floor and went 12-of-27 from 3-point range.
Georgia State will return to the court and face UL Monroe in the GSU Sports Arena on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. live on the WatchESPN platform.