Strong finish propels Georgia State to win at Old Dominion

Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes saw his team improve to 12-14. AP file photo

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes saw his team improve to 12-14. AP file photo

The Georgia State basketball team took another step forward on Saturday night, coming up big in the final minutes and winning a game it likely would have lost earlier this season.

The Panthers scored the last seven points of the game and held Old Dominion scoreless over the final 4:55 to secure a 68-65 win over the Monarchs at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Va.

“It was a great win and our guys grew up again, dealing with a little bit of adversity on the road,” Georgia State coach Jonas Hayes said. “Road wins are so hard to come by. It ain’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.”

It gave Georgia State (12-14, 6-8 Sun Belt) a sweep of the two-game season series and was the third conference road win for the Panthers. Georgia State moved into eighth place in the Sun Belt.

Georgia State took the lead when reserve Julian Mackey, who had missed his first six attempts at a 3-pointer, finally got one to fall with 1:23 remaining for a 66-65 lead.

“I like his confidence,” Hayes said. “He had a rough first half, but for him to stick that at that moment. He had the confidence to shoot it like he was 7-for-7. He’s been really, really coming on late.”

In the final 16.8 seconds, Old Dominion missed a jumper and a putback and got possession under its own basket with 4.4 seconds left following a deflection. But the inbounds pass sailed high and was knocked away and recovered by Jay’Den Turner, who was fouled. Turner made both free throws with 2.4 seconds left and ODU’s desperation shot from well beyond halfcourt fell way short.

“It takes a lot of nerve and a lot of chutzpah to be able to knock those free throws down in that moment,” Hayes said.

Free throws were critical for the Panthers, who were 15-for-19 (78.9%), compared to Old Dominion (9-for-15, 60%).

“That’s what we do,” Hayes said. “We shoot enough of those shots. I hope they knock them down for us.”

Georgia State got 16 points from Mackey and 15 points from Toneari Lane, all of them coming on 3-pointers. Turner had nine points and 12 rebounds.

Old Dominion (6-21, 2-12) lost its fifth straight. The Monarchs were led by Chauncey Jenkins with 22 points. He had 15 at the half but missed significant time in the second half after picking up his fourth foul.

Georgia State started slow – although not as poorly as Thursday’s 17-0 opening deficit against James Madison. Old Dominion led 11-4 before Lane stopped the momentum with a 3-pointer.

The Panthers used some full-court pressure to create turnovers – eight in the half – and tied the game 19-19 on Dwon Odom’s free throw at 8:23. Georgia State put together an 11-2 run late in the half and led 36-32 at the break.

Georgia State scored the first eight points of the second half and enjoyed a 44-32 lead when ODU ran off 10 straight to get back in the game. The Monarchs used another 10-0 run and led by seven points with 8:37 left. Georgia State didn’t catch up until Mackey’s late 3-pointer.

Hayes said, “Our guys remained poised, they didn’t freak out and they continued to stay committed to one another, committed to what we were doing and we made some big shots down the stretch.”

Georgia State returns home for its final four games of the regular season and hosts Coastal Carolina on Wednesday.