Georgia State failed to score a field goal in the last 5:50 of regulation of Wednesday night's game and that would come back to haunt them as ODU would go on to win 65-60 in overtime. Georgia State was dominated on the glass all night as ODU out-rebounded the Panthers 52-39, including 25 offensive rebounds.
Going into the game the Panthers and the Monarchs were two of the best defensive teams in the nation. That was clear in this matchup as well as the Monarchs shot just 30 percent from the field, including just 19.4 percent in the second half, while GSU recorded 10 blocks. On the defensive end, the Monarchs forced 15 turnovers and recorded 12 steals.
"Against a good team like Old Dominion, you cannot give up 25 offensive rebounds," commented head coach Ron Hunter after the game. "We turned the ball over 15 times and when you combine those two things, you cannot expect to win.
Jihad Ali led the Panthers with 20 points, 15 of which came in the first half. Ali had 13 points in the first 12 minutes of play, but suffered an injury as he was elbowed hard in the stomach. Coach Hunter said after the game Ali was never the same after that. He also battled foul trouble as he got his fourth foul with 11:23 remaining, but was able to stay in the game and hit a huge three point shot in overtime that briefly cut the ODU lead to one. It was Ali's ninth straight double digit performance.
Six of the Panther's seven conference losses came by just five points or less. This game had the kind of atmosphere and competitiveness that told everyone in attendance that this game would be close as well. The largest lead in the game for either team was just six points.
"I thought our team fought hard all night," said Hunter. "We really wanted to win our 20th game at home in front of another great crowd. They gave us a lot of energy and I really appreciate all of the hard work our administration has put into making this a great home court environment this year."
Early on in the game the Panthers did a very good job of controlling the tempo, pushing the ball at the right times, and finding ways to get to the basket. However, ODU's zone defense eventually closed down the lanes, making things much tougher for the Georgia State attack.
Outside of Jihad Ali, none of the Panthers ever were able to get into much of a rhythm. Devonta White added 12 points, but was just three of 13 from the field. Eric Buckner added seven points, but more importantly had six blocks which made him only the sixth player in CAA history to record 100 blocks in a season. Josh Micheaux, one of the most athletic and talented players on the team who was playing with flu-like symptoms, was held without a single point.
The key stat which lead to the Monarch victory was offensive rebounds. ODU recorded 25 on the night and scored 23 points off of second chance opportunities. Kent Bazemore led the Monarchs with 19 points and seven rebounds. Chris Cooper added 11 points and an incredible 17 rebounds.
Georgia State will now travel to William and Mary on Saturday in their final game before the conference tournament next week. GSU has locked up the sixth seed and will face Hofstra in the first round next Friday.