Lucas Taylor’s 26 points lift Georgia State to win in regular-season finale

Lucas Taylor scored 26 points in the regular-season finale against Marshall to help Georgia State to an 82-79 win on March 1, 2024.

Credit: Ivan Konon

Credit: Ivan Konon

Lucas Taylor scored 26 points in the regular-season finale against Marshall to help Georgia State to an 82-79 win on March 1, 2024.

It may have been Senior Night, but it was a junior who did much of the heavy lifting for Georgia State on Friday and sent the Panthers to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on a positive note.

Lucas Taylor scored 26 points and made the crucial basket in the waning seconds to help Georgia State to an 82-79 win over Marshall at the GSU Convocation Center in the final game of the regular season.

Taylor, a 6-foot-5 junior from Raleigh, N.C., was 10-for-16 from the field, including three 3-pointers, for his sixth 20-point effort of the season. He scored 17 points in the first half, but it was his acrobatic play with 10.8 seconds remaining that was the most critical.

Holding a one-point lead, the Panthers worked deep into the clock when Taylor took a pass and drove under the basket to roll in a layup over his shoulder. That left Marshall needing to make a 3-pointer to force overtime and Cameron Crawford’s shot at the buzzer missed and Georgia State’s Jay’Den Turner controlled the rebound to end the game.

“It’s always good when you’re starting a game to get a few open looks,” Taylor said. “My team did a good job finding me and we’ve just been kind of going with the hot hand and that’s who we’re going to rock out with. It was good to start that way, but it was also great to finish.”

The win means Georgia State will avoid a Tuesday first-round game in the conference tournament in Pensacola, Fla. The Panthers are tied for seventh and begin postseason play on Thursday. The opponent and time are undermined, but could be Georgia Southern, South Alabama or even Marshall.

“Winning is not a cure-all. It can hide a lot of mistakes and hide a lot of weaknesses,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “We’re going to keep trucking. We’re going to keep getting better because it’s a brand-new season. Believe it or not, we’re 0-0. We have a chance to play our way into March Madness.”

Georgia State (14-16, 8-10) also got a near triple-double from Dwon Odom, who had 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Toneari Lane scored 16 and Leslie Nkereuwem scored 13.

Marshall (12-19, 7-11) has lost seven straight games. The Thundering Herd were led by Kevon Voyles with 23 points, Obinni Anochili-Killen with 16 points, and Nate Martin with 16 points and 11 rebounds – nine of them offensive.

Georgia State got off to a fast start for a change and led 8-0, with Taylor opening the game with a pair of 3s. The Panthers eventually built the lead to 12 points on a 3-pointer by Lane at 6:09.

Marshall got back in the game on the strength of Voyles’ perimeter game. He made three straight to spark a 10-0 run and the Herd tied the game 39-39 at 2:56. GSU outscored Marshall 7-2 in the final two minutes and led 46-42 at the break.

Marshall scored the first five points of the second half and took a one-point lead, but Georgia State’s Odom scored back-to-back baskets to regain the lead and the Panthers never trailed again, building a 10-point lead with 12:46 left.

“I thought we were able to gather ourselves and have enough poise down the stretch to pull out a win,” Hayes said. “I have to give the guys in my locker room, who I love and respect, and they brought enough maturity tonight to kick that door down and get a win.”