5 things to know about Georgia State game

A Georgia State player lets his eyes wander to the scoreboard. HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)
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A Georgia State player lets his eyes wander to the scoreboard. HENRY TAYLOR / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM)

With the score tied at 65-65, D’Marcus Simonds made a 2-point jump shot with 22 seconds left to give Georgia State the lead. The Panthers didn’t get to cheer for long, as Texas-Arlington’s Erick Neal made a 35-foot 3-pointer with one second left to give the Mavericks the 68-65 victory.

The victory keeps the Mavericks (20-6, 10-3 Sun Belt) in first place in the conference standings, while the Panthers (16-10, 9-5) lost their third consecutive and fell to fifth place.

Here are five things we learned from the game:

1. Panthers losing streak continues: Coach Ron Hunter earlier in the season, talked about playing good basketball at the right time. It seems his team isn't getting the message as they lose their third consecutive conference game, with only four games remaining. This is the second consecutive game in which the Panthers have lost on a last-second shot. The Panthers have blown a couple of leads this season, but the difference was Saturday they couldn't overcome blowing their 15-point lead.

“Back-to-back games we lost on a last-second shot,” Hunter said. “Both times it shouldn’t have even gotten to that. So, we let it get to that, so we gotta find a way to dig ourselves out of this. Kids are devastated, and we are devastated. Last three games, we should have won all three of them.”

2. Foul trouble dooms Panthers. Both starters Jeremy Hollowell and Malik Benlevi fouled out with less than one minute to go. With both experienced starters out, sophomore Austin Donaldson was forced to enter the game. Donaldson's first possession was a crucial turnover, that led to the Mavericks tying the score at 65-65. Benlevi and Hollowell clearly were missed in the final stretch, especially on the last-second shot by Neal. The Panthers committed 18 fouls and gave up 20 free throws.

3. Turnovers the difference-maker. When the Panthers took over with a 15-point lead, the Mavericks decided to go up-tempo on defense, forcing 13 steals and 21 Georgia State turnovers. The Mavericks made the Panthers pay by scoring 24 points off those turnovers.

4. Bad offense, outplays good defense. The Panthers played phenomenal defense against the Mavericks, who are averaging 77 points per game and 46 percent shooting from the field. The Panthers held the Mavericks to just 35 percent from the field. However, the offense couldn't get it going as they shot 30 percent from the 3-point line and 58 percent from the free-throw line.

5. Bench the only bright spot. If the Panthers' bench didn't play the way they played Saturday, this game would have been a blowout. The bench provided 22 points, while the Mavericks bench scored only four points. Hollowell and Simonds were the only starters to score in double figures, while the Mavericks had four players in double figures.