Defense Down the Stretch Keys Men’s Basketball Win over State
The Eagles play their home finale Thursday against Appalachian State
STATESBORO, Ga. – Mike Hughes tallied 21 points, seven rebounds and two steals, and Georgia Southern held Georgia State to one field goal in the final five minutes to grind out a 54-52 Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball win over the Panthers Tuesday night in Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Eagles earned a point in the Southern vs. State Rivalry Series and trimmed Georgia State’s lead to 8-4.
A Jake Allsmiller free throw gave the Eagles the two-point lead with 21.4 seconds remaining. Hughes almost had a steal with eight seconds left, but the ball went out of bounds off of the Eagles. After a Panther timeout, Isaiah Williams tried a runner in the lane that came off the front rim, and the ball went out of bounds off the Panthers with 2.8 left. Georgia Southern inbounded to Hughes, who eluded two defenders trying to foul and ran out the clock.
Hughes scored 18 points in the first half and finished the night 7 of 15 from the floor and 4 of 8 from 3-point range for Georgia Southern (13-14, 9-8). Ike Smith collected 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal, while Tookie Brown chipped in eight points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Williams posted 22 points, five rebounds and two steals for Georgia State (14-12, 7-10), and Jeremy Hollowell tallied 14 points and nine rebounds. Kevin Ware recorded 11 points and four boards.
After Williams put Georgia State ahead 50-47 with a 3-pointer from the wing with 5:32 left, Georgia Southern held the Panthers to 1 of 7 from the field for the remainder of the game. Smith hit a triple from the wing to tie the game, and Hughes took a charge on the Panthers’ ensuing possession. Smith was fouled on the Eagles’ next trip down the floor and made two for a 52-50 lead.
Hughes added a free throw with 1:40 to play, and Coye Simmons blocked a shot attempt by T.J. Shipes at the other end. After Allsmiller’s 3-pointer was off the mark for the Eagles, Williams drove the lane for a bucket to trim the lead to 53-52 with 28.1 to go. The Panthers fouled Allsmiller, who made 1 of 2 from the charity stripe, setting the stage for Williams’ final shot attempt.
Georgia State clamped down on Hughes and the Eagles in the second half and held Georgia Southern to 24 percent shooting from the field. The Eagles made up for it at the foul line where they outscored the Panthers 13-4 in the game.
“What a great environment – that is a special environment for our guys to play basketball in. To see the students and the fans get behind our guys and really, I don’t know if we win the game without them.”
“Ike Smith made a huge 3 when we were down three points, and I think it kind of gave us the belief that we were going to win. Coye Simmons made a tremendous block – went up and saved two points – so it was a big-time play. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we’ve had some hard-fought games with these guys. A lot of them come down to games like this, and it was great to get a positive outcome.”
On final play
“I felt like if we could get solid, and be in the right spot – I wanted to see their matchup and matchup with them and what we thought they were going to run. They ran something pretty close to what we thought they were going to do, so it was fortunate for us that we were able to guard it.”
On Appalachian State game Thursday
“This is a hard turanaround. We’re going to need some energy and some toughness that we found tonight. It’s going to be our last home game of the year. They have built some good memories; I hope they can build one more in Hanner Fieldhouse.”
The Eagles play their home finale Thursday against longtime rival Appalachian State, and tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Hanner Fieldhouse. It’s Senior Night for lone senior Devince Boykins, and the Langston Chapel Middle School Step Team will perform at halftime.
(From Georgia Southern Reports)