ATLANTA - Deasia Merrill made the game-winning shot with a second left to lift the Georgia State Panthers over their Sun Belt archrival, the Georgia Southern Eagles, 58-56. This is the Panthers’ first conference win of the season.
Georgia State finally snapped their three-game losing streak in the third game of their five-game homestand.
The Panthers were able to overcome Georgia Southern in spite of allowing 25 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points by the Eagles and shooting just 46 percent from the free-throw line.
The Panthers used a fast start in the first quarter as well as timely shots and stops on the other end in order to eke out the win.
“I think we did a much better job tonight in that and it allowed us to kind of build a lead in the first half,” Georgia State head coach Gene Hill said.
Georgia State moves up to 7-9 overall and 1-3 in the Sun Belt while Georgia Southern drops down to 11-6 and 2-3 respectively.
Ashley Foster was the only Panther in double digits with 16 points while Kamryn Dziak had nine points on three triples. For the Eagles, Mya Burns and Terren Ward each had 16 points.
The tone was set from the beginning as Georgia State, led by Foster and Alex Gitcheno, held the Eagles to 13 percent shooting in the first quarter while the Panthers shot 53 percent to go into the second leading 20-8.
After the Panthers led 27-9 midway through the second, the Eagles went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 11. However, Georgia Southern was unable to get any closer at that time and the Panthers went into halftime leading 30-18.
In the third, the tide began to turn as Georgia Southern, led by Burns’ 11 points in the period, outscored Georgia State 24-14 to cut the Panthers’ lead down to 44-42 entering the fourth.
Dziak hit two-consecutive threes to increase the lead back up to five, but Ward kept the game close all by herself, scoring 11 of the Eagles’ 14 points in the fourth.
With a minute left to go and the Panthers up 56-53, Merrill committed an offensive foul that wiped out a potential game-clinching bucket and allowed Daeja Holmes to tie the game on a three after an offensive rebound and assist by Ward.
With 26 seconds left, Georgia State went back down the court and Dziak missed a potential game-winning three. However, after Burns pulled down the rebound, Merrill was able to wrestle the ball away and score before the buzzer sounded to give her team the victory.
“I guess I was just at the right time and I just got the ball and shot it,” Merrill said.
On Thursday, The Eagles will head home to play the Troy Trojans while the Panthers will play the South Alabama Jaguars.