Georgia State Claims Sun Belt Automatic Bid.
Last season, Georgia State got disappointed in the final seconds when the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns got a defensive stop.
This season, it was the Panthers’ turn to get the stop as Georgia State defeated in-state rival Georgia Southern, 38-36 at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in New Orleans.
The win gives Georgia State (24-9) their first NCAA appearance since 2001. They are a #14 seed and will meet #3 Baylor Thursday in Jacksonville, FL.
Kevin Ware, the player who suffered a horrific leg injury two years ago when playing for Louisville in the NCAA tournament, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
R. J. Hunter’s two free throws with 21.6 seconds left and those free throws proved to be the game winner. Georgia Southern (22-9) missed a pair of three point attempts in the final seconds. Curtis Diamond missed a three point shot but the Eagles got the offensive rebound and called time out. Eric Ferguson’s three point shot missed as time expired.
Ware was the only player in double figures for either team, as he scored 18 points. Ware was starting in place of Ryan Harrow, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Jelani Hewitt had eight points to lead Georgia Southern, who shot just 22.8 percent (11-48) and were just 5-26 from three point range. Georgia State shot 32 percent (15-46) and hit only 2-13 from beyond the arc.
There was one significant injury as Georgia State coach Ron Hunter suffered an Achilles tendon injury during the celebration. The goal was lowered so he could cut down his piece of the net after the game.