Georgia State falls to Eastern Kentucky on half-court buzzer-beater

Georgia State learned the hard way on Friday that every second counts.

The Panthers were beaten 62-61 at the buzzer when Eastern Kentucky’s Cooper Robb hit a desperation shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer in the first game of the Capitol City Classic at the GSU Convocation Center.

“A lot we can learn from this,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “This is another opportunity for our team to see how they can handle adversity and regroup and move on. You don’t have a lot of time to think about this. We’ve got to flush it and move on because we’ve got another on Saturday.”

Georgia State plays Texas A&M Commerce on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Georgia State led by five points after Ja’Heim Hudson scored on the baseline with 1:22 remaining but did not score again. Eastern Kentucky got a long second-chance 3-pointer from Leland Walker with eight seconds left and the Colonels fouled Dwon Odom with five seconds left.

Odom, who made the big free throws in Tuesday’s win over Mercer, had already made two clutch baskets in the final minute to help Georgia State regain the lead it let slip away. But Odom missed the front end and Robb grabbed the rebound, took a couple of dribbles and let the winning shot fly as the horn sounded. A video review confirmed the shot was taken before time expired.

Georgia State had three starters injured during the game. Jamaine Mann played only six minutes, Evan Johnson played only 15 and Brenden Tucker left with three minutes left after being bloodied by a flying elbow.

“We had a couple of key guys go down, which is not an excuse, and we have to find a way to rally around that,” Hayes said.

The Panthers (2-2) got 16 points and eight rebounds from Odom, 12 points from Tucker and nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks from Hudson. Freshman Edward Nnamoko had seven rebounds and one block.

Eastern Kentucky (2-2) got 18 points from Devon Blanton and 10 points each from Michael Morena and Isaiah Cozart, who also had eight rebounds.

Georgia State used a couple of impressive scoring runs in the first half to move the momentum in its favor. An 8-0 run midway in the half enabled the Panthers to push the score to 27-16 and a 12-1 run late in the half, punctuated by a Hudson dunk, upped the lead to 20 points. Georgia State led 43-26 at halftime with Tucker scoring 10.

Eastern Kentucky chipped away, thanks to 14 second-half Georgia State turnovers, and took the lead on a bucket by Cozart with 3:26 left. GSU scored six straight but could not put the game away.

Georgia State had 20 turnovers, which led to 17 points for Eastern Kentucky. The Panthers shot only 39.1% and, with Johnson and Mann on the sideline for much of the game, made only 4 of 16 on 3-pointers. GSU scored only 18 points in the second half.