ATLANTA--Playing its final Colonial Athletic Association game, Georgia State fell to CAA regular-season champion Northeastern, 90-84, in overtime Wednesday at the GSU Sports Arena.
Manny Atkins equaled his career high with 26 points and Devonta White scored 24, including his 1000th career point, for the Panthers, who will move to the Sun Belt Conference next season. GSU finished the regular-season at 15-16, just missing a second straight winning season under head coach Ron Hunter.
Northeastern, which had already clinched a share of first place in the CAA and the top seed in the conference tournament, was a perfect 27-for-27 at the free throw line and got a career-high 29 points from Joel Smith, including the clinching three-pointer with 22.5 seconds left in overtime. David Walker added 16 points as the Huskies improved to 19-10 overall, 14-4 in the CAA.
“I am so proud of these guys,” commented head coach Ron Hunter after the game. “Our guys could have given up at any point this season and they never did. They gave me every ounce of energy, determination and grit that they had. As a coach that is all I can ask.”
Senior James Vincent, playing in his final game in a Panther uniform, scored eight points and pulled down three rebounds in 28 minutes. He finished his career with 117 games played, sixth most in school history. His 132 career blocked shots stand second in school history.
“I am really proud of James and wish we could have sent him out with a win,” continued Hunter. “He played his heart out to the end and I am extremely proud of him for that.”
In a back-and-forth second half, Atkins’ three-pointer put GSU ahead 70-66 with 2:55 left, but Zach Stahl completed consecutive three-point plays for Northeastern, the second one giving the Huskies a 72-70 lead with 1:35 to play.
White answered with a driving layup to tie the game at 72 but missed the ensuing free throw that would have given GSU the lead. After both teams missed shots, Northeastern had the ball with the clock running down in regulation. Walker tried a three-pointer with about five seconds left that was blocked by R.J. Hunter, and Smith grabbed the loose ball and missed another three-point try. After a scramble for the rebound, the ball went out of bounds to GSU on the side with two seconds left, but Hunter missed a desperation three at the buzzer to force the extra session.
Northeastern scored the first five points of the overtime and held off the Panthers, who pulled within 83-82 on White’s jumper with 56 seconds left, but Smith delivered the knockout punch with his trey from the corner with 23 seconds left.
With his first basket of the night, Hunter eclipsed the Georgia State freshman scoring record of 515 points, set by Matt O’Brien in 1989-90. He finished with 13 points to raise his season total to 527.
White, the junior from Alpharetta, Ga., became the 17th 1000-point scorer in Georgia State history.
Georgia State led by as many as 13 points in the first half before Northeastern finished the half with three-pointers by Walker and Smith to pull within 37-30 at the break. The Panthers maintained their lead for the first five minutes of the second half until Northeastern tied game at 43-43 on layup by Reggie Spencer with 14:34 left. From there, neither team led by more than five points until the final seconds.
Freshman Markus Crider came off the bench to score six points and pull down six rebounds for the Panthers.
Zach Stahl finished with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Huskies, while Jonathan Lee and Quincy Ford each chipped in with 11 points.