Coming off back-to-back road losses, the Georgia State Panthers returned to their home court on Wednesday looking for a win.
The Panthers (17-8, 8-4 Sun Belt), who have lost only once at GSU Sports Arena this season, beat Troy 77-63.
D’Marcus Simonds led Georgia State with 27 points. Simonds set a school record for career field goals with 589. He tied with Kane Williams in rebounds with seven, and Williams added 10 points.
“Right now [Simonds] is playing the best basketball of his career. He wasn’t doing that earlier in the year,” coach Ron Hunter said. “I thought his overall six assists and seven rebounds, that’s the D’Marcus I know that fills those stats sheets.”
The Panthers came out strong in the second half, opening up with a 8-0 run in the first three minutes. They continued to pull away and built a lead of 15 with 13:58 to play. The Trojans (11-13, 4-8) scored three points in the first six minutes of the second half, while the Panthers scored 17.
While Troy tried to answer with seven points, Georgia State’s shots continued to go down and the lead grew to 16 at 62-46 with 10 minutes left in the game. The Panthers’ 3-point shooting percentage increased to 66 percent through the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“Hopefully it kind of sparked us, what we did in the second half,” Hunter said. “I thought the second half looked like our team.”
Troy responded with a 12-7 run to close its deficit to 69-58 with four minutes left in the game. But Georgia State held on to its lead in a 8-5 run to close out the win. The Panthers ended the game shooting 48 percent in field goals and 40 percent from the 3-point range.
Troy developed an early lead off of two 3-pointers and a dunk to pull ahead 8-3. But then Simonds scored all of the Panthers’ points for a 10-8 lead.
The Trojans started to pull ahead with a 8-0 run but the Panthers closed the deficit to three on a 5-0 surge.
Back-to-back steals allowed Georgia State to increase its run to 10-0 and a four-point lead with 10 minutes left in the first half. The Trojans answered by scoring the next six points to close the gap and tie the game at 28. But the Panthers responded again.
Both teams had 11 turnovers in the first half. Troy scored 16 points off the mistakes, while Georgia State scored 12. The Panthers had just two turnovers in the second half, while the Trojans had eight.
“I was really upset, we had 11 turnovers in the first half, and we just hadn’t been playing well,” Hunter said. “So second half we had two turnovers, I think we jumped on them 17-3, and so we did what we needed to get done to get the win.”
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