Georgia State Closes Out Home Schedule With Revenge Win Over Mountaineers
Photo: Jordan Crawford, THERSdayNight.com
Georgia State (12-5, 6-4 in Sun Belt) got a record shooting performance from senior guard Kane Williams and sophomore forward Jalen Thomas set a career high in points for a third successive game as they downed Appalachian State (12-10, 6-7 in the Sun Belt) 85-71. This win makes it four straight on the bounce for Georgia State, while it consigns Appalachian State to a fifth straight defeat. After the Panthers built a 41-31 halftime lead, the Mountaineers came out on a 8-2 tear to cut it to 43-39, but Georgia State then scored the next seven points to extend the lead back to 11 and re-establish their double-digit lead. Then, down 75-60 with 10:58 to go, Appalachian State scored the next seven points to halve the Panthers’ advantage and make it 60-52 with 9:11 left. This time, Georgia State rattled off an extended period where they outscored the Mountaineers 18-8 to take their largest lead, 78-60, with 2:33 to play, to put the game away.
Kane Williams set career highs with his 24 points and six made three-pointers as he led the Panthers in scoring and moved past former teammate Jeff Thomas into 15th all-time in the program in career points. Jalen Thomas scored 22 on 10-of-15 shooting on his career night and added 8 rebounds. Senior Corey Allen contributed a balanced 16-point, 5-rebound, 6-assist effort. Georgia State’s 10-of-11 (90.9%) performance from the free throw line as team was a season high. App State grad transfer Michael Almonacy matched Williams’ 24 to joint-lead all scorers, with all but three of his points coming in the second half. The Mountaineers were without leading scorer Donovan Gregory (11.6 ppg).
Panthers head coach Rob Lanier praised the team’s 21 assists, saying, “That’s great for us. There’s been a big emphasis on us sharing the ball.” Coach Lanier was happy with the way his team were able to play the game at their pace and score against one of the best defenses in the league (App State had been averaging allowing 63 ppg coming into this game). He added, “We talk about playing without hesitation, and I think we did that.” While cautioning that there are “some significant improvements we can make,” Coach Lanier said, “I think we’re trending in the right direction.”
This win helps Georgia State avenge their two losses to the Mountaineers earlier in the season and gives them a final record of 9-1 in the Sports Arena this season. The Panthers will finish their regular season still with a chance to win the East Division regular season crown when they head to Mobile to face South Alabama on Friday and Saturday. A win in both games would move Georgia State to the top of the division with an 8-4 conference record. Tipoff from the Mitchell Center is at 9pm EST on Friday night and the game can be seen nationally on ESPN2.