Eagles unable to overcome 15 point halftime deficit against Georgia State

McClain Baxley

At halftime of Saturday’s Sun Belt semifinal, Georgia State’s head coach Ron Hunter said that to win they couldn’t let Georgia Southern shoot better than 40 percent from the field.

The Eagles shot exactly 40 percent.

Junior guard Ike Smith set the tone for the game.

In the first half, Smith went an underwhelming 1-2 from the field and nothing seemed to go right for GS. They had three turnovers, 10 fouls and were letting GSU do whatever they wanted to on offense.

Second half, Smith was shooting with confidence and ease, and the rest of the Eagles followed. Smith went 4-5 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line for 14 second half points.

The Eagles also deployed a press on the Panthers that really slowed down and stalled their offense. It worked for the duration of the final 20 minutes as GSU only scored 29 points.

{{tncms-inline account=”The George-Anne Sports” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Media timeout with 7:16 in regulationEagles have cut lead to 57-49 behind a strong showing from Quan Jackson and a great usage of a full court press, slowing the Panthers' offense down.</p>— The George-Anne Sports (@GeorgeAnneSport) <a href="https://twitter.com/GeorgeAnneSport/status/972587852289708033?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 10, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/GeorgeAnneSport/status/972587852289708033″ type=”twitter”}}

But, the first half truly plagued GS, and they weren’t able to reel it back in.

Even with Sun Belt Player of the Year D’Marcus Simonds only scoring six points and fouling out with five minutes to play, GSU had a strong supporting cast that helped the Panthers stay alive.

Jeff Thomas continued his great tournament play to score 13 first half points and Isaiah Williams had 21 points off the bench.

The loss is most likely the final time starters Jake Allsmiller, Mike Hughes will wear the blue and white and their end of game emotion was noticeable.

Allsmiller had another disappointing effort going 0-8 from three point range, just one week after nailing eight threes in the win over Troy. Hughes finished with seven points and limped off with an injury in the final minutes.

I hurt for our senior group who has done a tremendous job of building Georgia Southern basketball,” head coach Mark Byington said. “I really wanted them to experience getting to a championship game and winning a championship game, and this group played as one as freshmen, and I would have loved for them to have the chance to go back.”

The underclassmen came through though down the stretch.

Redshirt freshman Quan Jackson had an incredible outing in the second half with 10 points, five rebounds and most impressively three steals.

Tookie Brown had another typical game with 25 points, eight of which were from the free throw line.

Saturday’s loss caps a 21-12 season for the Eagles.

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Sports Editor, gasports@georgiasouthern.edu