League-Leading Georgia State Gets The Win – Beats A-State in Overtime


Georgia State Gets The Win

JONESBORO, Ark. – Missed opportunities prevented Arkansas State University from upsetting Sun Belt Conference leader Georgia State as the Red Wolves were dealt a heartbreaking 79-76 overtime home loss this Tuesday evening at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.

The Red Wolves let a three-point lead with just over a minute left in regulation slip away only to have senior guard Melvin Johnson III hit a game-tying three-pointer well beyond the key with 02.3 seconds remaining to send the contest into overtime.  However, the momentum gained evaporated in the extra session as Georgia State scored the first five points before a three-ball by senior forward Kirk Van Slyke cut the margin to 74-72 with 1:17 left.  The Panthers would tally the next four to go up by six, 78-72, with 16 seconds to go as the Red Wolves ran out of time before the final horn sounded.

A 12-5 start by A-State, which was fueled by netting the contest’s first seven points, would give the hosts the lead throughout the first half and a 30-27 Red Wolves’ halftime advantage over the Panthers.  The Red Wolves continued to hold the upper hand the first nine minutes of the second half before Georgia State overcame an eight-point deficit to take its first lead of the game, 46-45, at the 11:12 mark.  A-State bounced back to regain its lead and would go up by seven points, 60-53 with just over five minutes left in regulation after Melvin Johnson III made one of his five triples on the night.  GSU managed to erase its deficit and went take the lead at 67-66 on a steal by Devonta White followed by Ryan Harrow’s layup with 37 seconds to go.  A pair of free throws from Manny Atkins, who finished with a game-high 30 points, gave the visitors a three-point cushion at 69-66 with 12 seconds remaining in regulation.  Coming out of an A-State timeout, Melvin Johnson III called for the ball in the final seconds and delivered on a three with just under two seconds left on the clock.  Following a GSU turnover, Ed Townsel‘s desperation shot fell short as the regulation buzzer sounded.

“I thought our effort was great, but we got beat by a team which is really efficient and was without one of their best players,” said A-State head coach John Brady.  “We were good enough to win the game but a couple of mental lapses at key times hurt us as did not making our free throws in important situations.

“We’re a good team, but we are where we are (in the SBC standings) is because we didn’t execute,” added Brady.

The performance at the free throw stripe was one of the differences in the game as A-State was limited to six attempts, making six of those while Georgia State went to the line 19 times and cashed in on 15 charity stripe opportunities.

Four players scored in double figures for A-State, which drops to 17-11 overall and 9-7 in the conference.  Melvin Johnson III led all Red Wolves with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting and 5-of-10 from long range.  Kirk Van Slyke totaled 18 points while sophomore guard Cameron Golden and senior guard Brandon Reedeach tallied 13 points.

On the boards, Georgia State racked up 42 rebounds to A-State’s 39 caroms.  Cameron Golden led the way for the Red Wolves with a career-high eight rebounds.  Melvin Johnson III and senior guard Ed Townsel pulled down six apiece while Manny Atkins of Georgia State claimed top game honors with 11 rebounds.

Besides Atkins’ 30 points, Georgia State received 18 points from Ryan Harrow and Devonta White chipped in 13 as the Panthers won their sixth straight in improving to 23-7 overall and 16-1 in the Sun Belt Conference.  The Panthers prevailed despite being without the services of their top scorer, R.J. Hunter for the entire contest. Hunter, who’s averaging 18.8 points per game this season, watched the game from the bench due to an injury.

Arkansas State concluded the contest shooting 42.6 percent (29-68) from the floor.  The Red Wolves connected on 51.9 percent (14-27) of their second-half shots, but struggled in overtime by going three-for-11 (27.3%).

The Red Wolves continue their current regular-season ending home stand this Thursday (March 6) evening against the ULM Warhawks at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.  A 7:05 p.m. (CT) start time is scheduled for the Sun Belt Conference matchup and fans can tune into the game live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network per flagship station KFIN 107.9FM as Matt Stolz calls the action.

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