Another Georgia State comeback bid falls short against Louisiana-Monroe

Georgia State tried to produce another dramatic come-from-behind win on Thursday. But this time the Panthers started too late and came up short in their first Sun Belt Conference road game.

Georgia State trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half and got back in the game with a 17-3 run, ultimately losing 66-58 at Louisiana-Monroe.

“It was a tale of two halves again,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “We’ve got a team that needs to mature and play better on the road. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win on the defensive standpoint early on, but I felt we corrected that in the second half.”

Riding the performance of Brenden Tucker, who scored a season-high 25 points, the Panthers trimmed the deficit to 58-55. Tucker scored on a steal and a basket with 2:37 and kept alive the thought of a comeback similar to Saturday, when GSU rallied from 13 points behind to beat South Alabama.

“Brendan is a good ball player,” Hayes said. “He’s a competitor and he wants to win. I really do admire that about him.”

After ULM called a timeout, the Panthers forced the Warhawks to work deep in the shot clock and Tyreke Locure missed a 3-pointer, only to have his teammate Thomas Howell get the rebound and work it around to Victor Bafutto for a layup and a five-point lead with 1:50 left. It was never again a one-possession game.

“We’ll never give up. We’ll never lay down,” Hayes said. “We just came up short. The guys played hard.”

Tucker, a sophomore transfer from the College of Charleston, had his best game of the season. He was 6-for-12 from the floor, made three 3-pointers, and was 10-for-13 at the line. He matched his season high with six rebounds and had two assists, two steals and a block. He was the only player to score in double figures.

Georgia State (8-7, 1-2 Sun Belt) also got eight points each from Jamaine Mann and Evan Johnson. Hayes also credited reserve Jamall Clyce for providing a lot of energy during the comeback run; Clyce played eight minutes and had three rebounds.

Louisiana-Monroe (7-9, 3-0 Sun Belt) got a season-high 25 points from Locure, who added six rebounds and four assist, 14 points from Jamar Blackmon and 13 points and eight rebounds from Howell. The Warhawks have won their first three conference games for the first time in 16 years and ended a four-game losing streak to Georgia State.

Georgia State endured another forgettable first half. The Panthers trailed 12-3 out of the blocks and never got closer than four points. GSU shot 26.3%, committed 10 turnovers that led to 10 ULM points and the Warhawks led 36-27 at halftime. Louisiana-Monroe used a 17-6 run in the early stages of the second half to build a 19-point lead with 8:59 left.

Georgia State completes its trip with a game at Louisiana on Saturday. The Panthers defeated the Ragin’ Cajuns in the Sun Belt Conference final last season.

“We’ll flush this one and try to go out and get us one on Saturday,” Hayes said.