Release from Georgia State Athletics:
Junior R.J. Hunter scored a season-high 37 points, including 23 in the second half to lead Georgia State to a 77-72 win over Troy on Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena. Hunter made six free throws in the final 26 seconds to secure the victory.
The junior from Indianapolis finished the game 9-of-20 from the floor, including four 3-pointers and an impressive 15-of-17 from the free throw line, both career-highs, while dishing out five assists. He is now just one point shy of Terrence Brandon’s 1,479 points for second on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list.
Hunter was nearly matched by Troy’s Musa Abdul-Aleem who finished with 33 points and made seven of Troy’s 13 3-pointers. Abdul-Aleem finishing 9-of-16 from the floor and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
Georgia State (10-6, 3-2 Sun Belt) won for the 19th time in his last 20 home games and played without the services of senior Ryan Harrow who was nursing a toe injury. It was the first game Harrow has missed in a Georgia State uniform. The Panthers are off to their third-best start in program history and have now won 32 of their last 41 games dating back to last season.
Troy (6-7, 1-3 Sun Belt) lost despite shooting 48.1 percent from 3-point range and missing just one of 14 free throw attempts.
Sophomore Isaiah Dennis stepped up in Harrow’s absence scoring a career-high nine points in 18 minutes. Entering play, Dennis has scored just 12 points in his career, including nine this season.
“That was a great gut check for our guys to step up and play,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “I though Isaiah Dennis coming off the bench and giving us those minutes was huge. I knew we needed someone to make up the difference for Ryan (Harrow) and I didn’t know who it would be. Isaiah took the opportunity and did an incredible job for us today.”
Trailing 12-11 early in the game, junior Kevin Ware knocked down 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Panthers a 17-12 lead with 13:09 to play in the first half. After a Troy 3-pointer by Wesley Person, Hunter knocked down his second 3-pointer of the game to push the Panthers lead back to five.
Ware finished with 13 points and four assists for the Panthers.
Georgia State made eight-straight field goals and hit nine of its first 10 shots, finishing the first half shooting 60 percent from the floor and 5-of-10 from 3-point range.
Troy used a 9-0 run to take 24-22 with 6:29 to play in the first half, before Georgia State responded with a dunk by Curtis Washington and another 3-pointer by Hunter to retake the lead, 27-24.
The Trojans finished the half knocking down six 3-pointers to lead Georgia State 34-32 at the break.
Trailing 44-39 early in the second half, Hunter knocked down a jumper and subsequent free throw, followed by a 3-pointer from Jalen Brown to take a 45-44 lead with just over 12 minutes to play.
The two teams combined for 20 lead changes and 10 ties, with 13 of those lead changes coming in the season half.
A Dennis lay-up with 1:32 to play gave GSU a 71-68 lead, the Panthers biggest lead of the second half to that point and one the team would not relinquish.
After a missed 3-pointer by Hunter with 30 seconds to play, he got the rebound which sent him to the free throw line where he made both to give GSU a 73-68 lead with 26.1 seconds to play.
After an Abdul-Aleem put-back cut the deficit to three, Hunter went back to the free throw line and made both to give GSU a 75-70 lead with 13.3 seconds to play.
Kelton Ford responded with a fast break lay-up cut Georgia State’s lead to three points with 8.5 seconds to play before Hunter made another pair of free throws to secure the win.
Wesley Person added 17 points for Troy, while Ford came off the bench to score 10.
Georgia State finished the game shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from 3-point range, knocking down 22-of-26 from the free throw line.