Panthers Start Fast, Sputter in Second Half, Lose at UTA 70-62
Georgia State (18-10, 11-6 in Sun Belt) couldn’t take advantage of an early 16-point lead, struggling in the second half and eventually falling in a late collapse to UTA (13-15, 9-8 in Sun Belt) 70-62. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Panthers and dropped them into a tie in second place in the conference with Texas State. On a night where they were without the 42% three-pointing shooting of Nelson Phillips due to injury, Georgia State struggled from deep and from the floor, finishing the night at 35% and 6-of-25 from 3. Kane Williams led all scorers with 21 points and added 5 of the Panthers’ 12 assists. Sam Griffin led the Mavericks with 13 and gave them their first lead since 2-0 – 54-52 – with 8:05 to play.
The Panthers came out firing on all cylinders, making 5 of their first 8 three-pointers and playing disruptive defense to jump out to a 20-8 lead. The lead ballooned up to as much as 31-15 – Georgia State’s largest of the game – before a poor stretch combined with a ratcheting-up on defense by UTA led the Mavericks on a 15-4 run into the locker room, as they cut the deficit to 5 at 35-30. Strong foul shooting in the half aided Chris Ogden’s team, as they made 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
It was a carbon-copy of the start of the game as play got back underway, with the Panthers playing fast and starting on a 9-0 run to push their lead back to double digits. But the hot shooting from the start of the game completely deserted the Panthers in the second half as they went 11-of-37 as a team in the final 20 minutes and 1-of-12 from 3. After clawing back from their double-digit deficit, Griffin made back-to-back jumpers to give UTA them a 54-52 lead. After a Josh Linder putback tied things at 54, David Azore hit a FT to give the Mavs a lead they would never relinquish, as they closed the game on a 16-8 run over the final 6:57. A Kane Williams layup got Georgia State back to within 1 at 63-62 with 1:51 left but the shooting touch continued to evade the Panthers and UTA made their free throws to earn their third straight win.
The Panthers close out the Texas stretch in San Marcos on Saturday, when they head into Strahan Arena to face the surging Texas State Bobcats. The battle for second place in the conference outright tips at 5pm EST.