ATLANTA - Jada Lewis scored 18 points and hit five huge free-throws in the final minute of the game to help Georgia State hang on to defeat Louisiana 74-71 Saturday at GSU Sports Arena.
After trailing by as many as nine late in the third quarter, Georgia State (13-9, 7-4) took the lead with 2:33 left in the game and never let up, shooting 72.7% in the fourth quarter. In a game with 10 lead changes and 10 ties, the Panthers’ bench outscored Louisiana (6-17, 4-8 Sun Belt) 18-3 as the Panthers also shot 8-for-18 from long range.
Georgia State has now won six of its last eight games, including three straight wins to start February.
Brandi Williams led Louisiana with 24 points. Andrea Cournoyer scored 15 and Ty’Reona Doucet added 14 and six boards.
The game was closely contested from the outset. Georgia State shot 46.4% in the first half, and the Ragin’ Cajuns shot 41.9%, while the Panthers scored 14 points off seven Louisiana turnovers. Neither team led by more than five points, with Georgia State clinging to a 33-31 halftime lead.
A 10-2 run by the Ragin’ Cajuns in the third quarter helped them build a six-point lead with a little under five minutes left. Louisiana’s lead grew to nine before Kierra Henry hit a corner three and followed that up with two free-throws after being fouled on the other end to help the Panthers pull to within four at the end of the third quarter.
Georgia State continued chipping away at the lead, tying the game a few times before pulling ahead 66-64 on a Johnson layup with 2:33 to play. After drawing an offensive foul on the other end, Lewis hit a towering 3-pointer with time running out on the shot click to put the Panthers up five. After Williams scored for Louisiana on the other end, Lewis drove into the lane and got fouled, knocking down both free-throws to give the Panthers a 71-66 lead with one minute left.
Cournoyer made a layup to pull Louisiana to within three. They fouled Lewis, who made one out of two from the line to give the Panthers a four-point lead with 30 seconds left. After throwing away the inbound pass, Louisiana fouled Madison Ervin, but Ervin missed both foul shots, giving Louisiana the ball back with 25.7 seconds left, trailing by four. Williams would come up big again for the Ragin’ Cajuns, connecting on a three from the left corner to pull within one. Lewis hit her free shots for the Panthers to put them back up by three with 17 second left. But Jomyra Mathis would miss a three-pointer that would have tied the game in the closing seconds as Georgia State held on to win.
Georgia State will play its next two games on the road, starting Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. against Troy.