Georgia State knocks off Appalachian State for fourth consecutive road win

Senior Kane Williams goes between two big defenders against Northeastern on Nov. 12, 2021. (Photo by Todd Drexler/SESPORTSMEDIA.com)

Credit: Todd Drexler/SESPORTSMEDIA.com

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Senior Kane Williams goes between two big defenders against Northeastern on Nov. 12, 2021. (Photo by Todd Drexler/SESPORTSMEDIA.com)

Credit: Todd Drexler/SESPORTSMEDIA.com

It’s one thing for Georgia State to hold a lower-division program like Brewton-Parker to 10 points in a half. It’s a completely different matter to hold Sun Belt Conference-leading Appalachian State to 16 first-half points.

It’s a new standard for the defensive-minded Panthers, who produced another elite effort Saturday in a 58-49 win over Appalachian State at the Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, N.C. It was the fewest points scored by the Mountaineers this season.

“What’s neat is we’ve been a good offensive team for a couple of years, and we’re struggling offensively,” Georgia State coach Rob Lanier said. “But these guys are taking pride in their defense, and if we continue to do that, the ball will eventually start to go in. I’m confident about that.”

The victory was the fourth consecutive road win for Georgia State, who has won five of six and improved to 11-10 overall and 5-5 in the Sun Belt. It also avenged a last-second loss to App State on Jan. 23.

Jalen Thomas led the Panthers with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, with five rebounds and two blocks, making him the program’s eighth player to reach 100 career blocks. Kane Williams scored 12 points, moving him into fourth place on the career list with 1,485 points, and had four steals, making him the third Panther to reach 200.

Justin Roberts scored 11, Corey Allen scored 10 and Eliel Nsoseme had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Appalachian State (16-11, 10-4) got 12 points each from Decatur’s Justin Forrest and Adrian Delph, who scored 29 points in the first meeting last month.

The Panthers limited Appalachian State to 21% from the field and only 2-for-8 on 3′s in the first half and outrebounded the Mountaineers 20-13. Georgia State held App State without a basket for nearly six minutes. Georgia State shot only 4-for-16 on 3′s, but a 9-0 run was good enough to give it a 28-16 halftime lead.

Appalachian State wound up shooting 31% for the game and got back in it by getting hot on 3s, making five in the second half. But the Mountaineers still wound up 18 fewer points shy of their season average of 67.5.

“It’s starting to become a theme with us that we defend well throughout the game, and we still haven’t found that offensive rhythm yet,” Lanier said. “But I know it’s going to come. We’ve gotten some good looks. We had good shooters taking good shots. It’s good for our guys to see that we can win games in the manner that we’re winning. I think eventually the lid is going to come off and when it does, we have a chance to be really good.”

There were two emotional swings for both teams in the chippy, physical second half. Georgia State took advantage of App State’s meltdown and overcame one of its own in the final two minutes.

Mountaineers coach Dustin Kerns was given a technical foul following a coat-throwing tantrum after Williams made a driving layup at the end of the shot clock that drew a foul. Williams made the and-one and the two free throws from the technical, producing a five-point play that lifted Georgia State to a 39-25 lead at 15:52.

Georgia State’s bizarre technical occurred with 1:37 remaining and opened the door for Appalachian State. Michael Almonacy drove the lane for a basket and was fouled by Allen, which cut GSU’s lead to six. Allen bounced the ball in frustration off the back of Almonacy’s head, which earned him a technical after a lengthy video review. Delph made the two technical free throws, but Almonacy missed the and-one, leaving Georgia State with a 49-45 lead.

“That was poor judgement on our part,” Lanier said. “There was a little chattering going on, and we got caught up in it and made a bad decision at a really inopportune time. We survived it. Lesson learned. We addressed it, and we move forward from there.”

That’s where the Panthers relied on their experience, outscoring the Mountaineers 9-4 to hold onto the lead. GSU was 5-for-6 at the line in the final 1:15 to put it away.

“We spend a lot of time talking about developing some mettle as a team,” Lanier said. “Justin Roberts and a couple of guys who have done it said in the huddle, ‘Let’s show some mettle.’ I can’t say it enough, I’m really proud of these guys.”

Georgia State has four regular-season games remaining, including next week’s home-and-home series with rival Georgia Southern. The teams play at the GSU Sports Arena on Thursday and in Statesboro on Saturday.