A dominating second half carried Georgia State to a 69-50 victory against McNeese State in its home opener at GSU Sports Arena on Friday night, handing new coach Ron Hunter his first victory at the school.
Devonta White scored a career-high 23 points to carry the Panthers (1-3) after GSU had a mediocre first half shooting the ball.
Hunter was thrilled with the victory as well as his team’s 18-of-19 effort from the free-throw line as they handled the Cowboys (1-2).
“The first half was too much like how we played in Seattle and that is not good enough to get the job done. The light switch went off over the final 20 minutes and you could really see the confidence build in our team,” Hunter said.
“From the very first practice that we had, I talked about us needing to hit free throws. We were the worst free-throw shooting team in the country last year and I guaranteed that it would not happen again this year. We have put a lot of time and energy into free-throw shooting in practice and tonight it paid dividends.”
Josh Micheaux scored 16 and had a career high in rebounds with 10. Jihad Ali and James Vincent also reached double figures in rebounding.
“The way James Vincent came off the bench in the second half was huge for us,” Hunter said. “He really gave us energy. … When he can play like that, it gives us a great opportunity to win.”
The Panthers went on a 13-3 run in a six-minute span to stretch a 33-31 lead to 46-34 lead with 10 minutes remaining. They shot 50 percent from the field in the final half.
Notes: Georgia State’s 94.7 free-throw percentage tied for the fifth best single-game mark in school history. … A 3-pointer by Rashaad Richardson with 25 seconds remaining in the first half gave GSU a 24-22 halftime lead. … GSU again hits the road again for its next game, a Tuesday visit at 8 p.m. at Samford in Birmingham.