ATLANTA—Freshman R.J. Hunter scored 30 points in his Georgia State debut and junior Rashaad Richardson added 17 points as the Panthers defeated Life University, 85-62, in an exhibition game Monday at the GSU Sports Arena.
Hunter hit four three-pointers and also contributed eight rebounds and six assists. Senior center James Vincent had 15 points and six rebounds.
Breaking in eight new players and playing without top returnee, Devonta White, the Panthers were sloppy at times at the beginning and trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half. White, the junior point guard, was held out for precautionary reasons after a minor injury in practice last week.
“I am really proud of our guys tonight,” commented head coach Ron Hunter after the win. “I don’t think I have ever been a part of a group with eight new guys in the line-up. We got off to a little bit of a sluggish start, but then calmed down and played the type of basketball that I expect us to play.
“We are young, but our 18-year olds played like grown men tonight. It took some time in the first half to work off our nerves, but once we did that, I was really proud of them.”
Georgia State trailed 34-23 with 5:08 to play in the first half, but held the Runnin’ Eagles scoreless the remainder of the half.
The Panthers still trailed 37-35 early in the second half when Hunter hit three consecutive three-pointers, the last one from several feet beyond the arc to put GSU ahead, 44-37, with 17 minutes to play.
The Panthers pushed the lead to 46-37, using a 23-3 run over a ten minute stretch before Life made one final run.
Georgia State never trailed again, but Life pulled within 51-50 with 11 minutes left when Hunter hit his fourth trey. Vincent then scored GSU’s next five points and then fed Hunter for a layup to put the Panthers ahead, 61-55, with six minutes to play. From there, the Panthers continued to extend their lead.
GSU shot 48 percent from the field, including 55 percent in the second half, and outrebounded the Runnin’ Eagles, 47-30, but the Panthers committed 19 turnovers.
Manny Atkins, the junior transfer from Virginia Tech, added nine points and eight rebounds for State, playing a team-high 35 minutes.
Life, an NAIA program in Marietta, was led by Latraius Moseley with 14 points and Bobby Smith with 13.
Georgia State hosts its second exhibition game Sunday, Nov. 4 as Albany State visits the GSU Sports Arena for at 6 p.m. game. Regular season begins Friday, Nov. 9 at Duke.