Panthers Suffer Double-Digit Loss to Texas State
ATLANTA — Head coach Ron Hunter paced the sidelines barefoot as he coached in his 12th barefoot-game Thursday night to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet. It was a disappointing outcome for Georgia State, though as they fell to Texas State 81-68 for their first home loss of the season.
Nijal Pearson had 27 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers in the Bobcats (17-3, 6-1) victory. Pearson hit two consecutive three-pointers with under seven minutes to play in regulation to give the Bobcats an 11-point lead and ultimately their 17th victory of the season. Texas State is currently in first place in the Sun Belt Conference.
“We just weren’t very good tonight,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We have to give a lot of credit to Texas State. I thought they outplayed us, were more physical and played with a lot more passion than we did. They beat us in every facet of the game, but we will figure it out and come back strong on Saturday.”
Devin Mitchell had a team-high 20 points for the Panthers and shot 6-of-11 from three-point range moving into fifth place for the most 3-pointers made in program history. Jeff Thomas had 19 points – two points shy of 1,000 career points. D’Marcus Simonds contributed 15 points and a team-high five assists.
Georgia State had been pleading for students and fans to attend home games and rightfully so. It was an excellent outing for a highly-anticipated match, but the Panthers (14-6, 5-2) fell short when it mattered most.
A lack of energy
The GSU Sports Arena finally had an electrified crowd in attendance, but their enthusiasm was not enough to fuel the Panthers to victory. Defensively, Georgia State is one of the best teams in the Sun Belt, but they allowed Texas State to shoot 48 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three-point range.
“We were short on closeouts; we didn’t challenge, we walked around, guys were flat – what we did great today we made a lot of excuses. That’s what we were great at today,” Hunter said in frustration.
Tre Nottingham (13) and Alex Peacock (13) also played pivotal roles in the Bobcats’ win.
A tale of two halves
The Panthers had a terrific shooting performance in the first half, shooting 57 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three, led by Mitchell’s 15 points. In the second period, the Panthers shot 37 percent from the floor and 21 percent from three.
Hunter said that his team lost focus down the stretch and his players expected to win this game without giving it their best effort.
“We can’t play like we’re supposed to win a championship like it’s going to be given to us,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t work that way; you have to come to and play, and we have older guys that have been there before, and they understand that, and we walked around and wanted to be cool like we’re Georgia State.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been as disappointed as I am today, and I’m not even talking about the loss – I’m really disappointed in my group today big time.”
The Panthers face another Texas team in UT Arlington on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Sports Arena.