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The Georgia State Panthers (19-11, 12-6 SBC) defeated Georgia Southern Eagles (18-13, 11-7 SBC) in an intense rilvary game. Like expected, the game came down to the final seconds. Georgia State entered the game third in the Sun Belt Conference.
Georgia State started the game out hitting on 50% of their shots in the first five mintues of the game connecting on two 3-pointers. After the hot start, they went cold going 1-5 and also turning the ball over.
Both teams traded baskets as reserve guard Devin Mitchell and senior forward Jeremy Hollowell each made 3-pointers. The offense struggled inside missing layups. Forward Willie Clayton missing two of them. “I think we came out a little jittery in the first half,” stated coach Ron Hunter
The Panthers struggled in the last 10:00 of the first half only scoring nine points. After no free throw attempts in the first half, Georgia State trailed 32-28. “I think we came out a little jittery in the first half,” stated coach Ron Hunter.
After Georgia Southern’s guard Jake Allsmiller opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Panthers’ guard D’Marcus Simonds completed an old fashion 3-point play and hit a mid-range jumper. Simonds scored the first seven of nine points to start the half. “I thought he [Simonds] came out trying to do to much and we had a little talk. He wanted to prove me wrong and thats why he kept looking at me and every time he looked at me I said more.” joked Hunter.
The game went back and forth as both teams kept trading 3-pointers. Georgia State came out in the second half hitting five straight 3-pointers and finished the second half shooting 7-9 from behind the arc. Jeff Thomas hit 4-4 from 3-point land.
Then Eagles went on a mini run hitting three straight 3-pointers and went up by six. Simonds cut the lead to one by hitting two layups including an and-one. Simonds finished the game with a team high 21 points.
Knotted at 59-59, Simonds hit a three with a little over five minutes to go to take a two point lead. After trading baskets, Georgia Southern scored off of a steal to cut the lead to one.
After they traded free throws, Guard Ike Smith for the Eagles hit one of two free throws to cut it two with under a 25 seconds left in the game.
After a few free throws by both teams, Malik Benlevi had a chance to seal the game from the line and only hit one out of two but Hollowell grabbed his 12th and got fouled with 13 seconds left. Hollowed hit both free throws to push the lead to five and closed the win. Hollowed finished with 16 points and Thomas added 16 points.
The Panthers out rebounded the Eagles 45-21. Hollowed finished with 16 points and Thomas added 16 points. Ike Smith scored a game high with 27 for the Eagles.
“I thought the crowd was big and I said that I believe that we have the best atmosphere in the Sunbelt,” said Hunter. The game was sold sold out.
Georgia State moved to second place in the conference and they earned a bye in the Sunbelt Conference Championship.