Georgia State scored first and got up early, leading the Flames 18-8 after a dominating dunk by James Vincent less than eight minutes into the game. Liberty pulled to within five with 8:30 left in the half, but as they only shot 34.5 percent from the floor in the first half, the Panthers went into halftime with a 37-28 lead.
The Panthers came out of halftime shooting poorly and allowed Liberty to cut the lead to 47-45 with 8:34 to play, but then Jihad Ali got hot, hitting three 3-point shots in three minutes, including a back-to-back sequence. Ali came off the bench and finished the game with 16 points (14 in the second half alone) on six-for-six shooting from the floor and four three-pointers.
For the game, the Panthers shot 48 percent from the field, including 42 percent from three-point range where they scored 24 points on 19 shots. Devonta White had 15 points, Josh Micheaux had seven points, 10 boards and five assists, Brandon McGee had 11 points, six rebounds and two assists, and James Fields added eight points, had three rebounds and dished-out six assists.
On the defensive side, the highlight of the night was the career-high seven blocked shots Eric Buckner had in the game, along with his seven rebounds, nine points and two assists. Buckner is now in Georgia State’s career top 10 list in blocks with 70, and is currently tied for eighth in the nation in blocked shots for the year.
The Panthers finished the final 7:09 of the game on a 19-3 run that featured some of the best defensive play of the season.
“I was excited how the team played defensively,” said Coach Ron Hunter. “Liberty is a very good team that won 19 games a year ago. This was the third straight game that we held our opponents to 50 points or less and when you can do that at this level, you have a pretty good defensive group."
This three-game win streak marks the first time in school history that GSU has held opponents to 50 points or less three straight games.
“Our team continues to gain confidence every minute, every half and every game and that is what we need to do,” Hunter commented. “We keep talking about being at our best in February and tonight’s win definitely helps us toward that goal.”
Georgia State will next head to Orangeburg, S.C. to face South Carolina State on Tuesday.