Tons of storylines from Georgia State’s 71-69 win at Towson on Monday night.
For Towson (10-10, 5-2), it was a missed opportunity to prove it belongs at the top of the league.
For Georgia State (9-11, 4-3), this win moved its record above .500 in the conference and provided a significant confidence-boosting road win.
Add in the fact that each team has an outstanding freshman. For Towson it is Jerome Hairston and for Georgia State it is RJ Hunter, and it is in your best interest to commit both names to memory.
Georgia State clearly did its homework on Towson, and started the game playing zone defense from the get-go. The Tigers struggled immensely against the zone defense when they faced Northeastern just a little over a week ago and it showed again. There wasn’t much of a rhythm to the first half and the only consistency was the fact that it was a close game. No team led by more than six points, and the score was tied seven different times.
Georgia State was led in the first half by R.J. Hunter who had nine points, with five of them coming from the free throw line. GSU also had a nice first half from Devonta White who had seven points, two rebounds, two assists and was 3-of-6 from the field. Not to be outdone Towson, had two players scores in double figures in the first half. Both Mike Burwell and Jerome Hairston had 11 points for the Tigers at the half, but the Panthers held a 33-31 halftime lead.
One surprising fact from the first half was that Georgia State held a 17-14 advantage on the glass. The Tigers outrebound their opponents on nightly basis, and for the Panthers to prove to themselves they could hang with a prolific glass cleaning team like Towson must have provided some confidence going into the second half.
The second half was much the same as the first half, as no team held a lead larger than four points. The teams exchanged the lead multiple times throughout the half, and neither team was going to back down. There was a (potentially) momentous change between halves: The Panthers’ band made a thunderous appearance to support their basketball team. The Georgia State band played at the Presidential Inauguration earlier in the day, and any home-court advantage Towson had was lost when the band showed up.
RJ Hunter was the difference maker down the stretch, as he knocked down shots from all over the court. Towson has allowed teams to shoot well from three-point range and Hunter took advantage in the second half. Hunter shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc in the second half, and en route to 18 second-half points and new career-high of 27. On the other side Jerrelle Benimon kept his double-double streak alive at five as he tallied his 14th double-double on the season. Benimon had 18 points, 10 rebounds and two assists but it just wasn’t enough.
Hunter and Benimon received help from their teammates. For Georgia State, Devonta White didn’t light up the scoreboard, but he had a great all-around game, posting 14 points (5-of-9), six assists and five rebounds. Three other players posted double figures for Towson as Hairston (16), Mike Burwell (14) and Marcus Damas (11) helped pace the offense.
In the end, Towson just had no answer for the younger Hunter, as he nearly single-handedly put the Tigers away late in this one both with his shooting and his defense. Not only did Hunter hit an intergalactic three with 1:07 remaining to give the Panthers a four-point lead, but he also blocked Towson’s potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. The Panthers won the rebounding advantage 35-31.
In the post-game radio interview, Pat Skerry gave a statement (which he reiterated in Tuesday’s teleconference): “We didn’t handle prosperity correctly. It’s part of the learning experience.”
These two teams will meet again on February 9th, and you should expect another exciting game. Looking to the not-so-distant future, Towson will need to bounce back immediately as George Mason rolls into town Wednesday for a regionally televised game on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) at 7 p.m. The Patriots and the Tigers will do battle for second place in the CAA. Georgia State will look to keep their momentum when it hosts UNC-Wilmington Wednesday at 7 p.m.
A couple quick hits from around the league, as we try to shake off the three-day weekend blues:
-Brian Mull analyzes the Ten Most Efficient Players thus far in the CAA season.
-Things are getting a little clearer (at the top, at least) in these power polls. Here’s Mark Selig’s.
-CAA Co-Player of the Week Quincy Ford gets some well-deserved publicity. The Huskies still arent’ getting the national hype you might expect from a 6-0 CAA start, but four consecutive home games will have a chance to make that record even gaudier. Note to national eyes: Northeastern beat Belmont on a neutral floor without Jonathan Lee.
-Nice read from the AJC on Manny Atkins.
-Samme Givens weighs in on Drexel’s season.
-Some insight into the Mason-Towson matchup. Congratulations to Marko Gujanicic for his first CAA Rookie of the Week award.
-I feel bad that I’m so late on this, but it seems like a good time to bring it up. The Warriors beat the Clippers 106-99 on Monday night. The Warriors are the only team to have beaten the Clippers more than once this year, and they’ve done it three times. I wonder how much of their inspiration comes from a certain ex-Monarch’s sideline antics? If you don’t care about the NBA, Golden State’s a good team to support, just because of Charles Jenkins and Kent Bazemore.
Just another reason redshirting is so valuable.