Georgia State earns win over Middle Tennessee

Kevin Ware

Georgia State guard Kevin Ware (0)
Photo credit: Georgia State Athletics / Jason Getz Photography

Release from Georgia State Athletics:

Redshirt-sophomore Isaiah Williams made a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds to play to give Georgia State a 64-62 win over Middle Tennessee at the GSU Sports Arena on Tuesday night.

Williams, who scored 13 points and dished out five assists, finished as one of four Panthers in double figures for the third-straight game. He went 9-of-12 from the line, making more than half of the Panthers 17 free throws.

Senior Kevin Ware led the Panthers with 18 points and six assists, going 8-of-11 from the floor. Senior Markus Crider game off the bench to score 12 points and swipe three steals, while redshirt-junior Jeremy Hollowell added 10 points.

Georgia State (7-2) closed out non-conference play with a four-game winning streak and extended its home-court winning streak to 12 games, third-longest in school history. The 7-2 start is the best nine-game start under head coach Ron Hunter and just one game shy of being among the top five starts in program history.

Georgia State is 54-15 in their last 69 games dating back to Dec. 14, 2013 and have won 13-of-16 games dating back to last season.

Despite 18 points a piece from Darnell Harris and Reggie Upshaw, Middle Tennessee, which was ranked No. 55 in the NCAA RPI entering the day, dropped to 7-3. The Panthers finished the month of December with a 3-1 record against opponents from Conference USA.

“That was a really great win for us,” Hunter said. “That was one of the better basketball teams to come into the Sports Arena in a long time. I’m just really impressed we the way our guys played. We take pride in our defense and tonight we held a really good team to just 38 percent shooting.”

Trailing 57-56 with 3:08 to play, Georgia State responded with a 6-0 run as Ware, Hollowell and Crider all made baskets to give the Panthers a 62-57 lead with 48.5 seconds to play.

Middle Tennessee responded with a pair of free throws from Perrin Buford and a 3-pointer by Harris to tie the game 62-62 with 13.7 seconds left before Williams got to the line for the Panthers.

A last ditch effort 3-pointer by Joshua Phillips came up just short to secure the win for Georgia State which has not lost at home since last January.

The Panthers finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor, despite going just 1-of-9 from 3-point range. Georgia State held the Blue Raiders to 38.5 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.

Middle Tennessee opened the game with an early 10-6 lead with 14:23 to play in the first half before the Panthers responded with an 8-0 run to take a 14-10 lead with 11:19 to play.

With Georgia State leading 18-16 with 7:29 remaining in the half, the Blue Raiders responded with a 7-0 run to take a 23-18 leading with just over five minutes to play and went into the half leading 31-29.

The two teams traded leads seven times in the opening half with each turning it over an uncharacteristic nine times a piece.

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