R.J. Hunter scored 28 of his game-high 33 points in the second half as Georgia State passed another major Sun Belt road test, defeating Louisiana-Lafayette 77-70 at the CajunDome. The win improves the Panthers to 6-0 in Sun Belt play (13-6 overall) maintaining their two game lead in the loss column. The loss drops UL Lafayette to 12-7, 3-3.
After trailing by as many as 10 early, the Panthers took a lead early in the second half when Hunter exploded scoring 12 straight GSU points giving his team a seven point lead with about 12 minutes to play. The Cajuns, in front of an inspired crowd of nearly 4,000, took the punch and actually answered back, regaining a slim lead heading into the game's final minutes. Georgia State had the final answer, though, using a 10-0 run late to grab the lead while making 13-of-15 from the free throw line over the final 90 seconds to salt it away.
For the game, the Cajuns shot just 3-for-19 from beyond the arc and 11-for-17 from the line. The Panthers made 8-of-14 and 27-of-37. GSU also committed just seven turnovers in the hostile road environment.
Ragin' Cajuns radio voice Jay Walker reported pre-game that no fewer than seven NBA teams were represented in the crowd tonight to observe the talent these two teams possess, and they had to leave the Dome happy with what they saw. Hunter, who is clearly positioning himself as the Sun Belt Player of the Year front-runner lately, led the way with his 33. He made five of his seven three-point attempts and 12 of his 14 free throw attempts.
GSU's Ryan Harrow added 17 points with four assists while Manny Atkins added an 11 point, 11 rebound double-double. Meanwhile, the Cajuns dynamic duo of Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long also impressed before both fouling out late. Payton once again filled the stat sheet scoring 21 points with nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Long had an amazing stat line scoring 17 points while grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking five shots.
Georgia State will look for their 11th straight win Saturday when they visit UL Monroe. The Cajuns will host Western Kentucky on Saturday at 4:00 pm eastern in a game televised on ESPN2.
Around the Sun Belt:
at Ark.-Little Rock 69, Texas St 64: Will Neighbour scored 21 while DeVonte Smith added 17, 15 in the second half, to lead UALR to a tight home win. The Trojans (10-9, 5-2 SBC) remain in second place while Texas State fell to 5-14, 1-5.
Western Kentucky 69, at UL Monroe 51: T.J. Price poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead the Hilltoppers (12-7, 4-2) to a road win. Nick Coppola had four points, six boards, and five assists for the Warhawks (6-8, 3-3.)
at Texas-Arlington 59, Troy 56: A low scoring game that was pretty dull at times had an amazing ending as UTA's Reger Dowell and Troy's Hunter Williams dueled in the final seconds. Dowell hit a three with 29 seconds remaining to put UTA up 56-53. Williams answered with a three to tie the game at 56 with 14 seconds to play. With five seconds to play, Dowell nailed another triple for the 59-56 lead, then Williams missed as time expired. Dowell led UTA (8-10, 3-3) with 22 points while Williams led Troy (7-12, 2-5) scoring 19.