The odds of Georgia State knocking off No. 1 Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament got a lot longer with 6:20 left in the first half Thursday. That’s when 6-foot-8, 235-pound senior Eliel Nsoseme slipped on the court, causing his left leg to give way and sending the big guy tumbling to the court.
Nsoseme stayed on the floor for minutes while the medical staff looked him over. He finally was helped to his feet, walked off on his own power and was unable to continue. His night and likely his career were over.
“Bob Murphy, our trainer, said right away that he’s done for the night,” Georgia State coach Rob Lanier said. “Nothing final in terms of what the actual injury is, but it was significant enough that Bob knew right away that he wasn’t going to play the rest of the game.”
When the team went to the locker room for halftime, they went straight to the training room to visit the guy who has become the emotional center of the team.
“We had a moment,” Lanier said. “My man (freshman) Jamall Clyce said a prayer. It was a great display of our appreciation for a great young man during a tough moment. It speaks to the kind of group we have that this was their approach at halftime. And we honored it with the way we started the second half. We came out and played.”
Nsoseme played eight minutes, scored two points and had five rebounds.
It likely was the final game Nsoseme will play for the Panthers. He has one more season available because of COVID-19 rules, but will complete his master’s degree this spring and likely is ready to move on.
By the numbers
Georgia State shot only 32.9% against the taller Gonzaga squad, which blocked nine shots and outrebounded the Panthers 54-41. Gonzaga shot 50.7% from the floor, but was 24-for-41 (58.5%) when they took used their size and experience advantage.
Kane Williams had 12 points, three assists and two steals. He winds up No. 3 all-time in scoring (1,589 points), No. 2 in assists (493) and No. 1 in games played (111).
Corey Allen scored 16 points and was 4-for-10 on 3-point shots. He finishes his career with 1,155 points, 17th on the career list. Justin Roberts finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. He finishes his career with 1,028 points, No. 23 on the career list. He moved up to No. 9 all-time with 292 assists.
Jalen Thomas had 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. The junior will start next season at No. 5 on the career block list, with 115.
Emptying the bench
The Panthers normally use eight players in their rotation, but had to go 10 deep while the game was in question. Twelve players ended up on the court.
Kaleb Scott was pressed into action early. The stout 6-foot-6, 235-pound sophomore did not play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and played only 12 minutes over four conference games. But he played 10 minutes Thursday before fouling out and wound up with five points, three rebounds and one block.
Freshman Chien-Hao Ma played almost six minutes; he had played in only one game since Dec. 18. Ma failed to score, but did not appear to be intimidated by the circumstances and played with great vigor.
Danny Stubbs and Kalik Brooks played the final three minutes when Lanier removed Allen, Roberts and Williams from the game.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com