Georgia State couldn’t take advantage of dominant second-half performances from forwards Eliel Nsoseme and Ja’Heim Hudson, falling in overtime to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 72-68. After being outrebounded 31-17 as a team in the first half, the Panthers – led by the effort of Nsoseme and Hudson – ended up winning the rebounding margin 50-44 with a +20 output in the second half and overtime. But in the extra period, Coastal made 3 of 4 attempted shots and all 6 of their free throws to take the lead late. Down 70-68 with 12 seconds to go in OT, Panthers guard Kane Williams couldn’t keep control of the ball and lost it out of bounds. Rudi Williams hit the last two of those Chanticleer free throws to put the game on ice and make it five straight defeats and an 0-4 start to Sun Belt play for Georgia State.
The Panthers had an opportunity to take the lead at the end of regulation as well. With the game tied at 59 and the shot clock dead, Kane Williams held for the final shot and found an open Ja’Heim Hudson in the corner for what would have been a game-winning three-pointer. But when the shot rimmed out, the opportunity to come out on the good side of a buzzer-beater after Thursday’s heartbreak against Appalachian State went missing and overtime was looming.
In addition to winning the battle on the glass by 6, Georgia State forced 20 Chanticleer turnovers. Eliel Nsoseme led the way with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks, and another night of good effort earned Ja’Heim Hudson a 15-point, 7-rebound outing. The duo’s work really showed up on the defensive end – after he finished the first half with 8 points and 8 rebounds, Coastal’s leading scorer and rebounder Essam Mostafa finished the afternoon with 10 and 9.
However, the game once again came down to an off night shooting the ball. The team made just 26 of 82 attempts (32%) and a bleak 3 of 28 attempted threes (11%). The Panthers’ senior guards – Allen, Kane Williams and Justin Roberts – contributed greatly to the struggles, combining to shoot 8-39 and 1-17 from beyond the arc. Coastal’s Vince Cole led all scorers with 23.
Georgia State head coach Rob Lanier drew a contrast between this loss and others in this stretch of defeats, saying, “Earlier in the year and in recent games, I didn’t feel like the effort, start to finish, was conducive to winning. I thought the effort tonight was the effort that a winning team puts forth.” In the end, Coach Lanier said, it was “execution and decision-making” down the stretch that let the team down. But if the team continues to play with the effort level which they played with in his game, he said, “These close games that we find ourselves in, we will break through.”
Defense led the way for Georgia State all game, and that started with a first half in which they forced 13 Coastal Carolina turnovers and held the Chanticleers to a 29% (10-34) shooting percentage from the floor. Coastal held onto the lead for over 10 minutes in the first half, in part thanks to an ice-cold 2-17 performance from beyond the arc by the Panthers, but it was Georgia State who edged out the end of the half. A mini 7-0 run, capped off by a Collin Moore layup with 5:39 to go in the half, turned a four-point deficit into a 22-19 lead for the Panthers. A Rudi Williams layup on the Chants’ following possession cut it to a one-point game again, but State responded with six straight points to give them a half-high seven-point lead and they took a 30-26 lead into halftime.
Coach Lanier put it simply when diagnosing the poor shooting performance, saying, “We’ve got great shooters who aren’t making shots, playmakers who aren’t making the plays that we’ve become accustomed to.” He chalked it up to the players lacking “just a confidence that comes with having some success.”
The search for that success and that confidence will continue for the team next week in the Bayou State, as they head to Lafayette to face the Cajuns of Louisiana on Thursday night and take on ULM Saturday afternoon. Tipoff at the Cajundome is at 8pm Eastern.