ATLANTA--Georgia State had its 10-game home winning streak snapped as VCU defeated the Panthers, 59-58, Saturday at the GSU Sports Arena. GSU trailed by as many as 11 points late in the second half before mounting a late rally and cutting it to one with just under a second to play.
Jihad Ali led the Panthers with 18 points, but Georgia State's late rally came up just short. GSU suffered its first home loss of the season, falling to 14-8, 6-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Four of the Panthers' five conference losses have been by three points or fewer.
Troy Daniels led VCU with 15 points and Juvonte Reddic had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Rams won their seventh straight to improve to 18-5, 9-2 in the CAA.
"Tonight was just a great college basketball game, like a heavyweight fight," commented head coach Ron Hunter. "I told my players when we walked off the court that I came to Georgia State to put our players in meaningful games late in the season. We played hard tonight, showed great effort and gave left everything we had on the court, in a very meaningful game."
Georgia State trailed 58-50 with less than 40 seconds to play. Josh Micheaux's layup pulled the Panthers within 58-52, and then Jihad Ali stole the ball but missed a three-point attempt from the top of the key with 29 seconds left.
The Panthers were forced to foul, and after Reddic missed a pair of free throws, Micheaux nailed a trey with seven seconds to go to make it a one possession game at 58-55. After Briante Weber made one of two free throws for the Rams, Micheaux's desperation three banked into the goal, but just 0.3 seconds remained.
Micheaux finished with 14 points, and Devonta White added 12 for GSU, which made seven three-pointers on the day but allowed VCU to hit eight.
"Our team does not believe in moral victories, but at the end of the day, I am proud of the way we played," continued Hunter. "This has been a difficult stretch of games. Playing Drexel and VCU back-to-back, I think any team in the country would struggle as you have to give it everything you have both mentally and physically.
"We will now take some time off and start to get ready for February and the final stretch of games leading into the conference tournament."
Darius Theus added 10 points and seven assists for the Rams who split the season series with the Panthers for the second year in a row.
Georgia State trailed 25-24 at the half and were down just five with 14:03 to play before both teams went more than three minutes without a basket.
VCU extended its lead to 11, 44-33, on a three-pointer by Daniels with 8:25 to play and still led by 11 after another Daniels three with 4:34 remaining in the game.
Georgia State returns to the road for a pair of games next week, playing at UNCW Wednesday and then at Hofstra next Saturday before returning home Feb. 8 to host Northeastern.
Fans can visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call 1-866-GA-STATE to purchase tickets for the game or for tickets for the Panthers remaining four home games.