Wilmington, N.C.-A trio of Panthers scored in double figures as Georgia State earned a 68-53 road win over UNCW on Wednesday night at Trask Coliseum. Senior Eric Buckner led the Panthers with 17 points, including 16 in the second half.
Redshirt-senior Jihad Ali scored in double figures for the third straight game, adding 16 points, while sophomore Rashaad Richardson finished with 10.
Georgia State (15-8, 7-5 CAA) earned a key Colonial Athletic Association road victory, while defeating UNCW (8-14, 4-8 CAA) for the fourth straight time.
After leading by 11 at halftime, Georgia State pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 21 with 10:00 minutes to go.
Buckner, who only made a free throw in the first half, responded in the second half, finishing the game 8-of-11 from the field, pulling down a team high nine rebounds.
"To get a win on the road in a game that we desperately needed is big for us," commented head coach Ron Hunter. "We struggled a lot in the month of January for a lot of reasons, but the calendar turned over to February today and I tried to preach that to my team. They responded and gave us a chance to finish the season strong."
Ali, who is averaging 17.0 points in the last three games, hit 6-of-11 from the floor, including a pair of three's, while pulling down eight rebounds and leading the Panthers with three steals.
State finished the game forcing 15 Seahawk turnovers, holding UNCW to 20 percent shooting from three-point range.
"Our defense leads to our offense and in the second half that was key," continued Hunter. "We were also able to get the ball inside to Buckner who had a huge second half for us. We were able to confuse their young guards and that led us to some easy transition baskets."
Richardson, who earned his ninth start of the season, hit a pair of three's while pulling down five rebounds in 21 minutes.
Donte Morales led UNCW with 14 points, while Keith Rendleman, who was averaging a double-double per game entering the contest, finished with 12, all in the second half and 13 rebounds.
UNCW opened the game holding the Panthers without a field goal for the first five minutes, taking an early 5-1 lead as Morales scored the Seahawks first five points.
Keyed by strong three-point shooting, Georgia State responded with a 10-0 run to take an 11-5 lead. Richardson and freshman Tony Kimbro Jr. each hit three's during the run. Kimbro finished with four points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes of action.
After UNCW tied the game at 11, State used a 15-0 run over a seven-minute period to take a 26-11 lead with 4:31 to play in the first half.
The Panthers took a 28-17 lead into the half, shooting 55.9 percent from three-point range, holding the Seahawks to just 29.2 percent from the floor and 25.0 percent from three-point range.
Senior Josh Micheaux chipped with eight second half point, while James Fields added seven point and four rebounds.
UNCW freshman Adam Smith was limited to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line, as GSU hit just 8-of-21 and UNCW hit 5-of-13.
Georgia State will return to the road to end the week at Hofstra on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. from Hempstead, N.Y. The game can be heard live on WRAS-FM 88.5 beginning at 3:30 p.m. with the Panther Pregame Show. Live stats and live video are available at GeorgiaStateSports.com.