Georgia State Steals a 68-64 Win Over Louisiana Basketball
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team collapsed late in the second half and gave the Georgia State Panthers their first conference victory after losing 68-64 in the Cajundome.
The Cajuns are now 9-9 overall and 4-4 in Sun Belt Conference play. Louisiana had 20 turnovers and made only six of 13 free throw attempts in the game. Head coach Bob Marlin placed an emphasis on those statistics as reasons for the disappointing loss.
"It couldn't be more frustrating," Marlin said. "I didn't think our point play was good tonight. We got beat on turnovers and second chance points 40-22. I told the guys we played hard, but, if they don't value the ball, that's all we talked about for three days."
"It was one of our number one goals," Marlin said. "We needed a low turnover game and we didn't get it. Between that, and going 6-13 from the free throw line, we just wasted a 12-22 three-point shooting night. Free throws and turnovers are something we've got to do a better job of."
Louisiana forward Theo Akwuba was the first player to score in the game, but the first three minutes did not go well for the Cajuns. Two fouls on Georgia State three point attempts gave the Panthers five points without making a shot. A turnover turned into an easy transition basket, and Georgia State's first made three-pointer of the game gave them a 10-0 run to answer Akwuba's basket.
During that stretch, Louisiana missed eight straight shot attempts. However, Cajuns guard Kentrell Garnett drained two straight threes to cut the lead to 10-8.
Georgia State struggled from three-point range to start conference play, but they made three of their first four attempts in the Cajundome. Garnett continued his strong play, hitting his third three-pointer of the first half to make it 20-19. The Panthers immediately answered with their fourth three.
After the two teams went back-and-forth, a three by forward Joe Charles gave the Cajuns a 29-27 lead. Guard Durey Cadwell continued Louisiana's strong outside shooting with his second three-pointer.
The Panthers hit a mid-range jumper at the end of the first half, and they took a slight 35-34 lead into the halftime break. Louisiana actually made more shots than the Panthers in the first half, but Georgia State went 9-12 from the free throw line while the Cajuns only made one of two free throw attempts. Another issue was turnovers and points off of them. The Panthers had nine points off of nine Louisiana turnovers while the Cajuns only had one point off of six Georgia State turnovers. Neither statistic would improve in the second half.
Garnett hit another three to start the second half, but the Cajuns went on a three-minute scoring drought afterwards. Georgia State took advantage, expanding their lead to 42-37.
Louisiana answered that with a quick 9-2 flurry to go up 46-44, causing four turnovers in two minutes and converting them to six points. Cajuns guard Michael Thomas hit a three to cap off the run. Each team got hot from the field, with Louisiana hitting five of seven shot attempts and the Panthers making six of seven.
The Cajuns struggled with free throws, missing three out of four from the charity stripe, and the Panthers took advantage with a 7-2 run. Two free throws by forward Jordan Brown and a three by forward Kobe Julien tied the game at 57. Louisiana guard Greg Williams Jr. followed it up with a three to give the Cajuns the lead back with an 8-0 run.
A jumper by Brown expanded the lead to five points at 62-57, but that was the last shot Louisiana made in the game. The Cajuns went on a four-minute scoring drought due to four untimely turnovers. Three separate offensive rebounds led to the game-tying tip in with three minutes remaining. Brown missed two big free throws, but finally broke the streak on his third attempt at the line. Georgia State responded with a jumper to take a 64-63 lead with 90 seconds left.
The Panthers hit a fade shot following a missed jumper by Akwuba, and their late lead became three points. Akwuba was fouled but split the free throws. Marlin decided to play out the next possession without fouling down two with 38 seconds left, and Georgia State missed a shot with the Cajuns getting the rebound. However, the 20th turnover of the night set up two free throws that the Panthers made to put the game away and win 68-64.
Louisiana went the final 6:23 without a made field goal, but they only had five shot attempts during that time. Most of the possessions ended in turnovers or missed free throws. Georgia State closed the contest on an 11-2 run and stole a game that the Cajuns should have won. Instead, thanks to 20 turnovers and poor free throw shooting, Louisiana fell back to 9-9 overall and 4-4 in conference play while the Panthers finally won their first Sun Belt game this year. Marlin talked about his team's performance to close the game.
"It's all turnovers," Marlin said. "This was a game that was there for the taking. It's the best game they played and they deserve to win because they valued the ball."
Up next, Louisiana hosts the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 7:00 p.m. in the Cajundome. The Eagles are 9-9 overall and 2-5 in Sun Belt play after taking down UL-Monroe 50-45 on Thursday night.