Freshman D’Marcus Simonds made two free throws with three seconds to play to help Georgia State earn an 85-82 win over Louisiana on Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena. Simonds led the Panthers with 19 points who won for the seventh-straight time and swept the season series from the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Georgia State (15-7, 8-2 Sun Belt) led by as many as 20 midway through the first half, but Louisiana (14-9, 4-6 Sun Belt) continued to chip in to the lead and had a chance to take the lead with under 10 seconds to play, but Bryce Washington missed a lay-up and Isaiah Dennis pulled down the rebound for Georgia State.
Simonds, the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week, finished 6-of-9 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the free throw line, while pulling down eight rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Sophomore Malik Benlevi added 17 points and five rebounds, while senior Jeremy Hollowell added 16 points and five rebounds.
Frank Bartley IV led Louisiana with 31 points, knocking down seven 3-pointers, while Jay Wright added 20 points. Bryce Washington recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Ragin’ Cajuns who lost to Georgia State for the fifth time in the last six meetings.
“I thought Louisiana did a really nice job fighting their way back into the game,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “When you are sitting in first place, people are going to give their best effort and you can’t relax. I thought we relaxed and started to turn the ball over and that is a dangerous combination. We need to clean that up, but we found a way to win and that is the most important thing.”
Georgia State came out firing, hitting its first three shots to take an early 7-3 lead with 18:18 remaining. After a Hollowell 3-pointer and free throw, the Panthers pushed the lead to 13-5 before the first media timeout.
Hollowell scored eight-straight points midway through the first half and helped push Georgia State’s lead to 30-17 with 9:02 remaining.
Simonds capped a 10-0 Georgia State run to put the Panthers ahead by 20, 37-17, with 8:01 to play.
Louisiana attempted to make a late run at the end of the half scoring six-straight points, but Benlevi hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 52-37 lead at halftime. Georgia State shot 57.1 percent in the first half, including 5-of-12 from 3-point range.
Leading by 11 with just under 17 minutes to play, Georgia State used an 8-0 run to push the lead back to 19, 67-48, with 15:16 remaining.
Louisiana responded with a 9-0 run later in the half to cut Georgia State’s lead to 76-69 with 6:47 to play.
A dunk by Wright and lay-up by Johnathan Stove cut Georgia State’s lead to just one, 83-82, with 55 seconds to play, but that is as close as Louisiana would get.
The Panthers finished the game shooting 52.5 percent from the floor and knocked down nine 3-pointers. Georgia State’s 18 turnovers led to 24 points for Louisiana.
Dennis and sophomore Jeff Thomas each added eight points for Georgia State, while senior Willie Clayton finished with seven.
Georgia State will remain at home to face UL Monroe on Monday night at 7 p.m. live on WatchESPN. Tickets for the game can be purchased by calling 404-413-4020 or by visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com/Tix.
From: GSU Sports Information