Final Stats attached
Georgia State Wins Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Title, Tops Georgia Southern 90-85
STATESBORO, Ga.-Georgia State won its third Sun Belt Conference regular season title on Saturday defeating in-state rival Georgia Southern 90-85 in Hanner Fieldhouse. It marked the Panthers first win in Statesboro since 1996, snapping a six-game losing streak to their in-state rival.
Georgia State (22-9, 13-5 Sun Belt) earned its third league title in the last six years and the sixth regular season title in program history. The Panthers have earned the No. 1-seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and will play next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET against the winner of Game 5 on Friday night.
Senior Malik Benlevi and redshirt-junior Damon Wilson each garnered double-doubles as five Panthers finished in double figures. Benlevi picked up his second double-double of the season with the two coming in the first and last games of the season as he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson garnered his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds to go along with six assists.
Georgia Southern (20-11, 12-6 Sun Belt) saw its six-game winning streak snapped. The Eagles have now lost five of their last six match-ups with the Panthers. Isaiah Crawley garnered a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Montae Glenn also pulled down a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Senior Tookie Brown added 19 points and five assists.
Sophomore Kane Williams led the Panthers with 23 points, while junior D’Marcus Simonds finished with 20 points. Senior Jeff Thomas, who was plagued by foul trouble, finished with 10 points, as the Panthers went 9-of-24 from 3-point range and shot 53.6 percent for the game.
“I have been fortunate to be a part of a lot of championships, but to go on the road to get this one today is really special,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “I thought our defense was big when it needed to be, and we played like we are the best team in the league. I couldn’t be happier for our team, our University and our community as we bring another championship to Atlanta.”
After Georgia Southern jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, the Panthers responded with a 7-0 run of their own and led 7-5 just over three minutes into the game.
The Panthers later used an 11-0 run included back-to-back 3-pointers by Thomas and a triple by Simonds to take a 20-10 lead with 12:32 to play, causing the Eagles to call their first timeout.
Georgia State led most of the half before the Eagles used an 8-0 run to tie the game 29-29 with 5:58 to play. A free throw by Elijah McCadden gave Georgia Southern a 37-36 lead with just under two minutes to play, but the Panthers finished the half on a 6-2 run and went into the locker room leading 42-39.
Georgia State shot 53.6 percent in the opening 20 minutes, going 6-of-9 from 3-point range. The Panthers forced the Eagles into 10 turnovers which led to 11 GSU points.
The Panthers opened the second half scoring the first five points to take a 47-39 lead with 17:23 to play. Minutes later, Georgia Southern responded with a 6-0 run capped by a Brown lay-up to tie the game 56-56.
Georgia State immediately responded with a 9-0 run capped by a Benlevi 3-pointer to take a 65-56 lead with 8:57 to play and still led by nine on a dunk by Williams with just over four minutes remaining.
The Eagles could get no closer than six points with 10 seconds to play as the Panthers made their free throws down the stretch.
MIKE HOLMES | Associate Athletic Director – Sports Communications | Georgia State University
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