Energetic Panthers Split Road Series with Coastal, Win 70-62
Photo: Jordan Crawford of THERSdayNight.com
Georgia State (7-2, 1-1 in Sun Belt) started fast in both halves and never trailed as they avenged Friday night’s loss to Coastal Carolina (7-2, 1-1 in Sun Belt), winning 70-62 to earn a split in the teams’ conference-opening double-header. With the game tied at 34 out of the break, the Panthers went on a 16-0 run to restore the double-digit lead they held for much of the first half to take control of the game. After a Kane Williams jumper with 15:08 left gave the Panthers a 50-34 lead, their largest of the game, a scoring drought of 5:06 kept the Chanticleers in the game, but they couldn’t take advantage and couldn’t cut into the lead. The Chants were able to trim the margin to single digits on multiple occasions in the final two minutes, but Georgia State made their free throws and left HTC Center with the victory.
Corey Allen was joint-top scorer with the Chanticleers’ DeVante Jones with 22 points. Georgia State’s senior guard from Ypsilanti paced the Panthers with an efficient 8-of-14 shooting and 5-of-10 shooting from deep. Kane Williams scored 19, shooting 8-of-9 from the charity stripe, and Jalen Thomas shored up the inside for the Panthers with 10 points and 9 rebounds. After being outrebounded by 17 in their loss the previous night, Georgia State were edged by just 1 on the glass in this game. The Panthers were without the services of starting forward Eliel Nsoseme and reserve guard JoJo Toppin for the second straight game, as they did not travel with the team to Conway. Deanthony Tipler scored 10 for Coastal as the only of Jones’s teammates to finish in double digits.
Georgia State coach Rob Lanier called Saturday’s game “a big win” after what he called “a disappointing effort that [the team] put forward last night.” Coach Lanier detailed the “hustle chart” he and the staff uses to rate their effort and ability to play at “the standard that [the team] set” and explained that Friday’s loss to Coastal graded out as ”the lowest hustle chart percentage” in his time at the school. But he added that he expected the hustle chart to look better for this win, saying, “As disappointed as I was, I’m also that proud of the response.” He went on, “We had some veteran guys step up in some key moments and it’s a really good win for those guys. I’m proud of them.”
After Friday night’s lethargic performance, Georgia State’s energy at both sides of the court was there from the opening tip. Corey Allen was the hot hand shooting the ball to start, hitting three threes to give the Panthers an early 14-2 lead. At the other end, switching between man-to-man and zone defensive sets, Georgia State was active, forcing five early turnovers and turning those into points. A Kane Williams fastbreak layup off of a steal pushed the Panthers’ advantage to 20-6 with 11:55 to go in the opening half. But the Chanticleers controlled the ball better from that point, with just three turnovers the rest of the half, and they started to heat up from the perimeter just as Georgia State’s fast shooting start wore off. Coastal chipped away and back-to-back threes from Garrick Green in the final two minutes tied the game at 34 at the half, erasing Georgia State’s double-digit lead. The Chants shot just 41% in the first half but were an efficient 6-of-13 (46%) on three-pointers.
With his 19-point effort this afternoon, senior guard Kane Williams moved into 17th-all time for points in school history, passing his former teammate Malik Benlevi and current Georgia State radio commentator and member of the 2001 NCAA Tournament team LaMont McIntosh.
Georgia State stays on the road for their next set of conference games next weekend, when they head to Troy for a two-game set on Friday and Saturday. Tipoff from Trojan Arena on January 8 is set for 7pm EST.