Kingston, R.I.—Georgia State suffered its third straight close loss, falling 65-60 at Rhode Island Saturday afternoon at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., despite 23 points by freshman R.J.Hunter.
The Panthers have dropped three straight games by a total of eight points to fall to 5-7 on the season. Rhode Island improved to 4-7 and has won three of four.
Rhode Island’s Xavier Munford scored
all 17 of his points in the second half, including 12 straight in a key run
that put Rhode Island ahead for good.
With the score tied at 42-all and just under nine minutes to play, Munford scored 12 consecutive points for the Rams, including three straight three-pointers—one of them a four-point play--to put URI ahead 54-44 with six minutes left.
Georgia State fought back, pulling within 59-57 on a layup by Rashaad Richardson with 2:22 left, but the Rams answered with a bucket by Mike Powell to move ahead by four. URI added a free throw with 1:47 left, but after a three-point play by Manny Atkins, GSU trailed 62-60 with 1:27 to play.
After a miss by the Rams, the Panthers had a possession to tie or take the lead, but Devonta White’s driving layup was blocked with 28 seconds left. But Munford made only one of two free throws giving GSU one final chance to tie, but Atkins’ three-point try was off the mark with 12 seconds left.
“We just have to learn how to finish games,” said GSU head coach Ron Hunter. “We played hard, but our margin of error is thin. We didn’t lose the game because we played badly; we just have to make a few more plays at the end.
“These are the growing pains of building a program,” Hunter continued. “Our fortunes will turn.”
The Panthers got off to a slow start, missing their first seven shots from the field to fall behind 10-1. GSU trailed 22-12 with six minutes to play in the half, but a three-pointer by White and a pair of free throws by Hunter in the final minute sent GSU into the locker room with a 27-24 deficit. Hunter scored 12 of the Panthers’ 24 points in the first half.
Georgia State stayed close for the first 10 minutes of the second half before final tying the game on Richardson’s three-pointer with 10:40 left, but the Panthers never led in the game.
Hunter, who also had six rebounds, topped the 20-point mark for the second straight game and the fifth time this season. Atkins contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals for GSU, and White added 14 points.
Georgia State managed to shoot just 39.6 percent from the field, including 4-for-17 from beyond the arc. Rhode Island was only slightly better at 44.7 percent, but the Rams made eight three-pointers. Nicola Malesevic led URI with 22 points
Georgia State’s next game is next Saturday at Georgia Southern in a 3 p.m. tipoff. The next home game for the Panthers is the Jan.2 Colonial Athletic Association opener versus Drexel. Tipoff is at 7 p.m., and tickets are available by calling 866-GA-STATE or visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com.