Georgia State falls to Canisius

Georgia State’s identity crisis continued in Monday’s 79-71 loss to Canisius in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

A team that was supposed to be able to play defense and shoot 3-pointers did neither well for the second consecutive game. The Panthers missed 17 of their 20 3-pointers while the Golden Griffins hit 13 of their 23 in a late afternoon game in Elon, N.C.

“All the guys are pressing right now,” coach Ron Hunter said. “We make every shot into a Final Four shot. We have to relax a little bit.”

Guard Ryan Harrow bounced back from last week’s disappointing loss to Alabama with 23 points. But R.J. Hunter and Devonta White couldn’t find their shots. White, who was averaging 12.5 points, scored just two. Hunter, a 38.7-percent three-point shooter this season, missed seven of his eight attempts to finish with 11 points, seven below his team-leading average. Combined, they missed 16 of 20 shots.

Missing 3-pointers has been a problem in each loss this year. Georgia State missed 12 of its 17 3-pointers in the 75-58 loss to Alabama and 16 of 22 in the 86-80 loss at Vanderbilt.

Conversely, Canisius’ guards had a field day against Georgia State’s (2-3) zone defense. Chris Perez doubled his season average with 22 points and Billy Baron added 26 more. The Griffins’ made 13 3-pointers, the most allowed by Georgia State this year and the fourth time an opponent hit at least 10.

“We aren’t very good defensively right now,” Hunter said.

The Panthers will face Elon at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in their last game in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Georgia State fell behind quickly to the Griffins. Behind Perez, Canisius jumped out to a 19-8 lead in the game’s opening minutes.

“We are fighting uphill all the time,” Hunter said. “Every possession becomes so big. We have to get the lead and our starts aren’t the greatest.”

Still, Georgia State cut its deficit to 37-34 at halftime. The Griffins pushed their lead back to 11 on a jumper by Perez early in the second half.

Despite their poor shooting, the Panthers fought back and cut the gap to two on a layup by Harrow with 12:31 left. They would get no closer.

Perez drilled a 3-pointer to push his team’s lead to five. Georgia State’s Curtis Washington answered with a layup before Jordan Heath and Josiah Heath scored consecutive baskets to give Canisius a 59-51 lead with 8:46 left.

“We have to find our niche, find our groove,” Hunter said. “We just aren’t there yet. We just have to figure it out.”