The Panthers, who beat the Trojans 88-77 on Sunday in Atlanta, swept the home-and-home series and have won seven consecutive against Little Rock.
“I think it really just highlights the notion of sticking together to get through it and overcoming adversity,” Hayes said. “That’s what we did. So, we can really use it as a reference point moving forward and say we’ve been here before, and we know what it takes to win. We know the attention to detail. We know the urgency that’s required.”
Toneari Lane scored 23 points for the second consecutive game to lead Georgia State (3-2). The Panthers also got 16 points and eight rebounds from Jay’Den Turner, 13 points from Lucas Taylor, 11 points from Brenden Tucker and 10 points from Dwon Odom.
Lane and Turner both played 43 minutes after Odom and Leslie Nkereuwem fouled out and Jamaine Mann left the game with a sprained ankle.
The score was tied 83-83 at the end of regulation. Turner began the overtime by making a 3-pointer, coming up with a steal and scoring on a putback to establish a three-point lead.
“His butt was all over the floor,” Hayes said.
From that point GSU won it with free throws. The Panthers were 5-for-8 at the line in the final 1:14, and Tucker made one of two with 4.4 seconds to make it a three-point margin. Little Rock could manage only a long-range 3-pointer to tie the score that landed high of the glass as time expired.
Georgia State was 22-for-22 from the line in the second half and 29-for-34 for the game. The Panthers overcame a pair of technical fouls that led to seven points for Little Rock and helped keep the Trojans in the game.
After GSU took an early 23-15 lead, Little Rock turned the momentum around. The Trojans flipped an eight-point deficit into 47-35 halftime lead. Things looked dire with 14:22 remaining in the game when the lead expanded to 17 points and GSU lost Mann, who hobbled off the court and into the tunnel. He tried to return, but spent most of the time with his leg elevated on a chair.
That’s when the Panthers began to apply pressure to Little Rock and were able to change the tempo enough to change the momentum. And with Odom fouling out, Ricky Bradley Jr. was able to limit Little Rock’s Cougar Bradley, who was only 1-for-6 on 3-point shots.
“We cut the game down into one possession at a time,” Hayes said. “When we needed a stop, when we absolutely needed to put our foot down and make a stop, I thought we did that.”
The Panthers tied the score with 5:51 on a pair of free throws by Taylor. The score was tied four more times, the last coming with 15 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Tucker that knotted the score at 83-83.
Georgia State plays again at 6 p.m. Saturday at Charlotte (3-2) and is off until its game at Kennesaw State on Dec. 2.