After four consecutive physically and emotionally draining games, Georgia State got college basketball’s version of a pick-me-up at the GSU Sports Arena on Saturday: Towson.
Led by James Vincent’s career- and game-high 18 points, the Panthers overcame a sloppy performance to knock off the Tigers 57-42 and extend Towson’s Division I-record losing streak to 37 games.
Afterward, Georgia State coach Ron Hunter didn’t want to give his team any excuses for what he described as a “fortunate” victory. Georgia State (13-4, 5-1 Colonial Athletic Association) was coming off a four-game swing that included playing three of the conference’s best teams, as well as Thursday’s “Barefoot” game against North Carolina Wilmington.
“First time in 20 years I had to coach effort,” he said. “It’s no fun when you have to coach effort. It’s like I told the guys, if you are going to be a championship team, you can’t coach effort. We’ve been a hungry basketball team all year. First time all year we’ve played a team that played hungrier than we did.”
Hunter didn’t make any players available to talk after the game. He said their lethargy and satisfaction was evident Thursday night, continued on Friday’s and affected Saturday’s game. The Panthers committed a season-high 18 turnovers, six more than their season average. The Tigers had 10 steals and blocked 10 shots. Many times Georgia State’s defenders would either pull up in the lane, giving the Tigers space to jump, or crash in head-first and get called for charges.
Hunter said afterward his team may have played differently had it been any other opponent, but pointed out that teams with championship aspirations don’t dial-down effort.
“We aren’t going to settle,” he said. “This is what happens with winning. There’s a price with winning. I just want to make sure that we understand that.”
Lost in the result was that the Panthers notched their 13th victory, surpassing by one their win total from last season, and they improved to 9-0 at home. Also lost was the play of Vincent, who didn’t miss a shot from the field (7-of-7) or the free-throw line (4-of-4).
“Without him, who knows what would have happened today?” Hunter said. “I wish he had a bright spot when the game was brighter.”
The Panthers next begin a stretch of four games in eight days, starting Wednesday at Northeastern and continuing Saturday at Delaware.
Hunter said he actually prefers to take his team on the road after the way they played against Towson. He said he has more control of his players’ time and schedules when they are away from campus, which will help them get their focus back.
“It’s a bump in the road,” he said. “I’m not happy, but we’ve won the game. As long as I’m at Georgia State, I’ll never coach effort again.”
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