Georgia State was defeated by George Mason, 61-58, on Saturday in Fairfax, Va. The loss snapped the Panthers’ school-record 11-game win streak in a battle of the CAA’s top two teams.
It is the Panthers’ first loss since beating beaten by Florida Atlantic on Nov. 14. They will return to the court for the “Barefoot Game” on Thursday against UNC-Wilmington. Coach Ron Hunter will coach in his bare feet to raise awareness of the work done by Samaritan’s Feet.
Georgia State (11-4, 3-1) was undone by poor free-throw shooting, an all-too familiar issue, and the difference between a charge and a non-call.
Georgia State, which was one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country last year under former coach Rod Barnes, hit 10 of its 17 free throws, while the Patriots were 18 of 21, including 10 of 10 by Ryan Pearson.
As big a factor as Pearson was on the line, it was another play he made that may have been the difference in the game.
With the Patriots leading by 1, Pearson bulled into the lane and ran over a Georgia State defender. No call was made. Pearson got the shot off, and Mike Morrison grabbed the airball and put it in to give the Patriots a 54-51 lead.
Josh Micheaux was called for a charge on Georgia State’s next possession, and Pearson hit both free throws the next time down the court to push his team’s lead to five with 27 seconds remaining.
The Panthers looked sluggish on offense in the first half, and Hunter said as much to the CSS broadcasters at halftime. Trailing 31-23 at halftime, the Panthers quickly rallied and tied the game at 31 with less than four minutes gone in the second half.
George Mason stretched its lead back to eight before James Fields hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers the lead again, 47-46.
Ali led the Panthers with 19 points.
The good: The Panthers’ defense again played well, making it hard to tell if playing their third game in six days was a factor. George Mason hit just 37.3 percent of its shots. … Ali continues to be sharp on offense. … Georgia State could have packed it in and chalked a loss up to the road trip after finding themselves trailing by eight at the half. However, they rallied and were in position to win the game.
The bad: The Panthers’ offense wasn’t crisp at all tonight and is beginning to show what may be considered an over-reliance on Ali. Devonta White missed 10 of his 13 shots. Micheaux committed four turnovers. … The Panthers were outrebounded 39-32, and gave up 12 offensive rebounds.
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu