Lane’s career high sparks Georgia State past Little Rock

Georgia State's Toneari Lane fires from outside to make one of six 3-pointers against Little Rock on Sunday, Nov. 19, at the GSU Convocation Center. (Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics)

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Credit: Daniel Wilson

Georgia State's Toneari Lane fires from outside to make one of six 3-pointers against Little Rock on Sunday, Nov. 19, at the GSU Convocation Center. (Daniel Wilson/Georgia State Athletics)

Another newcomer to the Georgia State basketball program properly introduced himself to the home crowd on Sunday afternoon.

Toneari Lane, a sophomore transfer from Winthrop, scored a career-high 23 points to help the Panthers roll to an 88-77 win over Little Rock in the final game of the Capitol Challenge at the GSU Convocation Center.

The 6-foot-5 guard from Grayson made six 3-pointers and was one of five players in double figures as Georgia State evened its record at 2-2 and continued to show the sort of growth and improvement that coach Jonas Hayes has been seeking.

“I see that every day,” GSU coach Jonas Hayes said. “That’s what he does. He gets that flame in his eyeballs and the rim looks about as big at the arena. You’ve got to let him spread his wings and fly a little bit and got at a good altitude tonight.”

Lane had totaled 20 points through the first three games, but finished 7-for-18 from the floor, 6-for-16 on 3-pointers.

Turner said, “I was just taking my shots. I was having a little slump a couple weeks my teammates just told me to keep taking my shots, taking my shots and tonight I kept taking my shots and it was fine.”

Holdovers Dwon Odom and Jamaine Mann both scored 15, Transfers Lucas Taylor added 14 and Jay’Den Turner finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Little Rock (1-3) was led by Norcross High School product Jamir Chaplin with 22 points and seven rebounds, Cougar Dowling with 17 and K.K. Robinson with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Panthers seemed to have things going their way when they took a 12-point lead on a 3-point basket by Lane with 3:32 left that made the score 40-28. But those were the last points scored by GSU in the first half and Little Rock tied the game 40-40 at the break.

Georgia State led by eight with 8:33 remaining, only to have Little Rock cut the margin to 71-69 with 6:08 left. The Panthers followed with a 14-2 run and pushed the lead to 12 on Odom’s layup with 3:13 left. Little Rock never got closer than nine.

“I think our guys found enough intestinal fortitude to gut out the game,” Hayes said. “We call it a moment of truth that we were able to find it within ourselves to do whatever is necessary to come of here with a win. I’m very pleased with the overall effort.”

With six transfers joining the rotation, Hayes has watched the group grow and come together. He said the connectivity between the group was better on Sunday.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Hayes said. “And the question that we all have for one another is how consistent moving forward will we be with that. We have some guys who are capable of doing some things on the court. We’ve just got to keep believing in one another and making them play for someone else.”

Lane said, “I feel like everything is still coming along. We all care for each other and as long as we keep doing that, this team will go far.”

In a scheduling oddity, the two teams meet again on Wednesday in Little Rock when Georgia State begins a three-game road trip that includes a stop in Charlotte and a game against Kennesaw State.

“To be honest, what I saw today for the most part is what we see every day,” Hayes said. “I’m starting to see a little carryover that I thought was very good. I think that mentality will take you to a spot where you want to be at the end of the year.”