The Georgia Southern men’s basketball team fell to in-state rival Georgia State, 90-85, in a crucial game Saturday night. This victory made GSU the regular season Sun Belt champions.
“We weren’t ourselves tonight,” Head Coach Mark Byington said. “We were really sloppy on turnovers tonight. We had a lot of mental mistakes. We were caught up in some things that weren’t important.”
In front of a sold out crowd at Hanner Fieldhouse, GS was led by junior forward Isaiah Crawley with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Tookie Brown also put up 19 points as well. The rest of the team was responsible for the remaining 47 points.
GSU was led by sophomore guard Kane Williams, who contributed 23 points and four rebounds. Senior forward Jeff Thomas was a key defensive component, committing four fouls against GS in the first half alone. He put up 10 points overall.
Panther junior guard and conference leader D’Marcus Simonds added in 20 points and four rebounds.
GSU has many strong shooters, especially from the three point line. They shot an impressive 67 percent from the three in the first half, with five players recording double digit point values.
Starting off struggling in the paint, GS trailed by ten early on. Freshman guard Calvin Wishart picked up the slack and got a run going. GS went into the half down by only three points, but shooting 39 percent from the three.
In the second half, Thomas fouled out with about 12 minutes left and GS used the opportunity to tie up the score.
After some sloppy ball handling and too many turnovers, GS fell behind and never caught back up. GSU scored 18 points from GS turnovers alone. The team struggled on the offensive side of the ball, shooting 43 percent from the field and 18 percent from the three.
GSU ended up at the foul line more often after the half, slowing down the rhythm of the game. Eventually, GS’ defense slowed down in the middle of the half and overall play became sluggish.
When GS was down by ten with a little over a minute left, Hanner Fieldhouse began to clear out. The game ended with a standing ovation for the two seniors.
Brown and Montae Glenn, who scored 11 points, were honored in a brief ceremony after the game. Overcome with emotion, GS left the court knowing they gave everything they had this season.
Byington is confident that the team will bounce back before heading to New Orleans for the Sun Belt Tournament.
“The biggest game of the year is going to come down to New Orleans,” Byington said. “We’re going to learn, we’re going to practice, and we’ll get better. I got a feeling that we’ll come out with extra motivation down in New Orleans.”
The team finished tied for second in the regular season Sun Belt race and earned a third seed in the tournament. The next opponent is unknown, but the team will play on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Central. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Amanda Arnold, The George-Anne Sports Reporter, firstname.lastname@example.org