By Alex Osiadacz (@AlexOsiadacz)
Georgia State squeaked past Arkansas State, 73-72 at the GSU Sports Arena to continue the Panthers’ eight-game win streak and remain undefeated in the Sun Belt Conference.
RJ Hunter’s game-winning jumper with 11.1 seconds remaining set the 2,089 member crowd into a deafening celebration, and later brought tears to his father’s eyes (see video below).
“At some point I looked up into the rafters of the student section and realized, ‘this is why I came to Georgia State,'” Head Coach Ron Hunter said.
RJ Hunter led Georgia State (11-6 overall, 4-0 Sun Belt) with 23 points, 3 blocks, and 6 rebounds, but it was a last second rebound by Curtis Washington’s under the Red Wolves net that gave Hunter his first game-winner and sealed the game for the Panthers.
“I had no doubt at all,” RJ Hunter said about Georgia State winning; “I think this time last year we wouldn’t have won this game, but with these fans tonight, no doubt.”
Arkansas State (10-6 overall, 3-2 Sun Belt) trailed for nearly three-quarters of the game including a 15 point deficit in the first half, and an 0-9 stretch to start the second half. However, the Red Wolves, led by the 6-foot-10 Kirk Van Slyke, who scored 22 of his teams total points, were up by 7 points with 4:10 to play.
Georgia State battled back through seven additional lead changes, and after getting the ball to Hunter, pulled ahead for the win. Georgia State was the first and last team to put points on the board in Thursday’s game—both were field goals by RJ Hunter.
Devonta White provided 15 points, while Ryan Harrow scored 11 and Manny Atkins added 10 points. Almost half of Georgia State’s points came in the paint, and the team went 10-11 in free throws—ending a university record streak that stood at 38 free throws made in a row.
“This game came down to who missed the less free throws, and we only missed one, that was the game,” Coach Hunter said.
Georgia State will host Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday for the Samaritan’s Barefoot for Bare Feed game, where Coach Ron Hunter will go without shoes during the game to raise awareness for children that do not have shoes.