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ATLANTA- Liberty overcame a 16-point second half deficit as well as career-high 35 points from D’Marcus Simonds to earn a 77-74 victory in overtime following a 3-pointer from Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz at the buzzer at the GSU Sports Arena on Monday night.
After going into the locker room leading by eight, Georgia State (5-3) pushed the lead to 16 points with 16:29 to play. However, Liberty (6-3) continue to chip at the lead before building a 67-62 advantage with 2:41 to play in the second half.
Georgia State finished regulation on a 6-1 run, but a 3-pointer by Simonds at the buzzer didn’t fall, sending the game into overtime.
The Panthers took a three-point lead in overtime on a 3-pointer by Simonds with 2:07 to play, but it would be the last time Georgia State would score.
Simonds went 13-of-24 from the floor and dished out five assists, but was also credited with eight of Georgia State’s 12 turnovers.
Liberty, playing in its second-straight overtime game, was led by Scottie James who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Pacheco-Ortiz added 15 points.
The Flames finished the night 14-of-26 from 3-point range, including 10-of-15 in the second half and overtime.
“Credit Liberty for playing an absolute great second half and credit us for playing absolutely terribly on the defensive end,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We missed assignments and missed free throws. When we had a chance to capitalize we didn’t. At the end of the game they capitalized on those mistakes.”
Georgia State opened the game with a 6-0 run to take an early lead. Liberty responded to take its only lead of the first half 9-8 with 14:14 to play.
The Panthers immediately responded with a 15-0 run that started with back-to-back 3-pointers by Jeff Thomas and Malik Benlevi. After pushing the run to 8-0, Liberty called its first timeout of the half. The Flames were forced to call another timeout after the first of back-to-back 3-pointers by Isaiah Williams gave the Panthers a 23-9 lead with 9:11 remaining.
Liberty responded with an 8-0 run to cut Georgia State’s lead to 23-17 with 6:20 to go.
The Flames then cut the lead to just four with 2:40 remaining before a jumper by Mitchell and dunk by Simonds just before the buzzer sent the Panthers into the locker room with a 35-27 lead.
Back to back baskets to start the second half pushed Georgia State’s lead back to double figures before the Flames started to chip into the lead.
Liberty made four consecutive 3-pointers and following a 3-pointer by Lovell Cabbil with 9:39 to play, cut Georgia State’s lead to 52-50. A possession later, the Flames tied the game, before Benlevi responded with back-to-back 3-pointers for Georgia State as the Panthers regained a six-point lead.
The Flames would once again respond and build the five-point advantage with just under three minutes remaining.
Benlevi finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds, while junior Devin Mitchell added 12 points and four rebounds.
Georgia State shot 50.9 percent from the floor and hit 9-of-22 from 3-point range, but went just 11-of-18 from the free throw line.
Cabbil added 15 points and five assists for the Flames.
Georgia State will take most of the week off for final exams before returning to the court on Saturday to host Montana at 2 p.m. in the GSU Sports Arena. The game will air live on WatchESPN/ESPN3.