The 2011-12 school year has come to a close, so it is time to review the year for the most memorable stories. This will be a three-part series to break the news into categories.
Monday, the list included news and facts from the athletics department as a whole or the teams. Tuesday, that list included individual stories and highlights.
Today, this list will re-cap the top games or events played.
We hope you were there for some of them.
TOP GAMES/EVENTS FROM 2011-12
1. In the CAA Men’s Soccer Tournament, Georgia State opened with a 2-1 win over No. 29 RPI William & Mary in a match that proved to seal a spot for GSU later into the NCAA Tournament. This was GSU’s first-ever CAA Tournament bid as the No. 6 seeded Panthers rose to the occasion to topple the No. 3 seeded Tribe on a 47-degree night in Harrisonburg, Va.
2. Georgia State’s softball team defeated eventual national champion and then ranked No. 2 Alabama, 5-1 on April 17. This game marked the highest ranked opponent any GSU has ever beaten and the first time to defeat the eventual national champion in that sport. The Panthers improved to 32-12 that night in front of 2,253 Crimson Tide fans with a five-run fifth inning. Alabama, who finished No. 3 in the country in scoring with 6.8 runs per game, could muster just four hits and one run against the GSU staff. Alabama also won the SEC Championship. GSU advanced to the CAA Championship before bowing to Hofstra, who advanced into the second round of the NCAA postseason.
3. The men’s basketball team set a school record with its 11th straight win and it came on the road against a VCU team that was on an eight-game win streak. GSU prevailed, 55-53, before an ESPN3 audience and 7,617 rabid VCU fans in Richmond. It was GSU’s first-ever win since joining the CAA in 2005-06 at VCU, one of the tougher places to play in college basketball. VCU went on to a 29-7 season, finishing No. 34 in RPI and receiving votes in the national polls. The Panthers, of course, went on to a 22-win season.
4. GSU’s women’s tennis team proved its grit and determination in a four-hour battle in the CAA semifinals to win and move on to the tournament championship match. GSU lost the doubles point to a tough 15-6 UNCW team, but re-grouped and won four singles matches to earn the key 4-2 victory. No. 1 singles star Abigail Tere-Apisah won at No. 1 singles en route to being named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
5. The Panther men’s basketball team was chosen to play in the postseason with a home game in the CollegeInsider.com Invitational Tournament. GSU rose to the occasion with a dominating, 74-43, 31-point win over Tennessee Tech before more than 1,500 frenzied GSU fans in the Sports Arena. In the first postseason game since 2002, GSU shot 52.7% in the convincing win over 19-13 Tech of the OVC.
6. GSU’s baseball squad played host to No. 9-ranked Georgia Tech and handed the Yellow Jackets a 5-4 defeat in Panthersville. This win marked GSU’s fourth-ever against a Top 10-ranked team and a fourth win in the last six years against city rival Georgia Tech. Four GSU pitchers combined for the win against a good Tech team that would win the ACC Championship and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
7. In the CAA Tournament, GSU’s softball team produced back-to-back wins over No. 2 seed James Madison to advance to the championship game. The No. 3 seeded Panthers pounded the Dukes, 7-4 and 9-1, on May 10 and 11 in Hempstead, N.Y. with 22 hits in the two games. In addition to moving back to the title game, GSU got a little revenge after having lost two of three to JMU two weeks earlier on April 28-29.
8. On Leap Year Day, Feb. 29, GSU’s softball team made it count with a 2-1 win over city rival Georgia Tech in a game in Panthersville. GSU improved to 12-4 on the young season, while Tech would go on to win 37 games, win the ACC Championship and earn an NCAA Tournament bid. In GSU’s first win over Georgia Tech since 2008, Brenna Morrissey hit a two-run home run and pitchers McCall Langford and Kaitlyn Medlam held the Tech bats in check.
9. Lightning struck, then Georgia State struck in the CAA baseball opener on a Friday night in Panthersville as GSU opened CAA play against Northeastern. The visiting Huskies had a big 8-2 lead when lightning and storms in the 7th inning caused a one-hour rain delay. When play resumed, Northeastern built its lead to 10 runs at 12-2 heading into the bottom of the 9th. That’s when the GSU bats found lightning and went on an improbable streak to score 11 runs, 10 of them with two out, to produce a remarkable 13-12 win. GSU was down 12-3 with just one out left, and they never had to use it, as the runs poured across the plate as the host Panthers set 14 batters to the plate in the 9th.
10. The men’s soccer team produced its first-ever win in Panthersville over a Top 25 team with a 1-0 win over CAA rival and No. 22 ranked William and Mary. The visiting Tribe were hot, having won four straight shutout games and having gone 445 minutes without allowing a goal. That’s when GSU’s Gimel Gordon scored a dramatic goal in the 80th minute to spark the host Panthers. GSU ended a five-match losing streak to William and Mary with freshman goalkeeper C.J. Cochran stepping up for injured Vincent Foermer.
11. The men’s golf team won its first tournament since the 2007-08 season when the topped the 17-team field at the Wexford Plantation Invitational. In Hilton Head, S.C. on Feb. 20-21, GSU pulled away to win over the closest challengers Furman (six strokes back), Davidson (11 back) and Louisville (12 back) all the way down to No. 17 place Marshall (45 strokes back). The Panthers got a one-two finish in the 90-golfer event as Damon Stephenson and Tyler Gruca battled for the individual trophy that Stephenson earned.
12. The second football season got off to another roaring start with 26,273 on hand at the Georgia Dome as the host Panthers ran roughshod over Clark Atlanta, 41-7. That was the second largest attendance, following the inaugural game one year earlier in an identical 41-7 score over Shorter in front of 30,237. Junior running back Donald Russell, a transfer from Kentucky, was inserted into the game in the second quarter and scored TD’s the first two times he touched the ball (20 and 3 yards) to spark the Panthers to a 24-0 halftime lead.
13. In Coach Ron Hunter’s first CAA Tournament game in Richmond, he had the team ready. The Panthers came out and set an all-time CAA Tournament record with a 35-point win, 85-50, over Hofstra. GSU, who picked up its 21st win that is the second-highest in a season in school history. The No. 5 seed Panthers shot 59.6% for the game and got 21 points and 11 rebounds from center Eric Buckner on 7-of-7 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws.
14. At the CAA Men’s Golf Championship, GSU made a strong run for the title, but finished second by two strokes after a solid final round 289 score on April 29. GSU was 17 strokes ahead of the third place team in the 11-team field. The Panthers got a tournament second-place from Davin White and fourth-place from Tyler Gruca.
15. Georgia State played host to the CAA Cross Country Championship for the first time and welcomed 672 to Championship Saturday, Oct. 29, at Nash Farm Battlefield Park in Hampton, Ga. The host Panther teams ran well with the women placing third among the 10 teams and the men coming in fourth. GSU had three All-CAA runners on the day on the blustery 50-degree morning.
16. In a four-hour battle on April 8 at the Piedmont Park Tennis Center, host GSU defeated No. 37 UNCW, 5-2, in men's tennis. The No. 65-ranked Panthers and visiting Seahawks saw three matches go to tiebreakers to decide the results. GSU improved to 18-4 on the season. Victor Valente helped lead the way with a three-set win at No. 2 singles and with a win at his doubles spot, while Thomas Cook also produced a three-set win at No. 3 singles.
17. In the first game of the New Year on Jan. 2, the men’s basketball team played host to pre-season CAA favorite Drexel, who came in on a six-game winning streak. But, GSU’s defense was up to the task and the Panthers claimed a 58-44 win to improve to 10-3. GSU won its 10th straight game after its 0-3 start and had the seventh longest win streak in the nation after the win. Drexel proved they were worthy of the No. 1 preseason pick by going on to win its next 19 consecutive games before bowing in the CAA championship game. Drexel finished 29-7, advancing to the NIT quarterfinals, but on Jan. 2 the Dragons had no answer for the Panthers defense.
18. The Panther women’s tennis team traveled to Tampa on April 8 to battle No. 37-ranked USF of the Big East. Host USF won the doubles point, leaving GSU little margin for error. GSU saw something special again from No. 1 player, Abigail Tere-Apisah. Matched against the No. 41 singles player in the country, Tere-Apisah lost the first game, 3-6. She rallied to win the second, 6-3. The third set appeared to be all for the USF player who built a 5-0 lead, needing one more to win. But, Tere-Apisah won seven straight to claim the 7-5 win and spark GSU to a 4-3 win in the nearly four-hour long match.
19. GSU’s volleyball team was obviously determined it was going to keep its perfect record against area rival Kennesaw State on Sept. 20 at KSU. A record crowd of 1,222 had showed up to cheer KSU on and the host Owls jumped out to a 2 to 1 lead, needing one more set to win. Feisty GSU hung tough and pulled out a 25-23 win in the fourth to tie it at 2-2. In the 15-point fifth set, host KSU stormed out to an 8-1 advantage and was moving closer to victory with a 13-7 lead. GSU reached back for everything it had left and went on an 8-0 run to pull out the 15-13 deciding set. The spark ignited the Panthers to go on to win eight of 12 matches.
20. Who doesn’t want to win the Homecoming football game? GSU played host to tough South Alabama on Oct. 22 and 14,086 fans came to cheer. A penalty on South Alabama gave them one final chance in regulation to tie the game as the horn sounded and the Jaguars did, 20-20. In the first OT, South Alabama missed a 44-yard FG; then GSU had its kick blocked for the win. In the second OT, GSU scored and then intercepted South Alabama at the goal line to secure the 27-20, two OT win. Donald Russell had the first 100-yard rushing game in school history (20 for 136) and Albert Wilson set the school record for receiving yards in a game (175). Mark Hogan had the game-winning interception.
21. In the first Georgia State women’s basketball game outside the continental United States, the Panthers pulled out a win. GSU traveled to Nassau for the Bahamas SunSplash Shootout. On Dec. 19, GSU defeated High Point University, 79-68, at the Kendal Isaacs National Gymnasium. High Point went on to win 20 games and earn a WNIT postseason bid. Georgia State shot 52.9% for the game and held talented High Point to 29.7% shooting for the game.
22. In the first game with a barefoot head coach, Georgia State defeated CAA rival UNCW, 75-61, on Jan. 12 in what will become the annual Samaritan’s Feet charity game. A crowd of 2,698 showed up, many of them donating shoes for the cause, to help in the worldwide charity provide shoes to needy children. This was the fifth year to do this for first-year GSU head coach Ron Hunter. The Panthers won for the 12th time in the last 13 games, but the charity was the biggest winner.
23. The women’s golf team posted its first team score under 900 since 2009 as they finished second in the 20-team Lady Pirate Intercollegiate in Greeneville, N.C. Georgia State finished second by only three strokes to Maryland, while topping No. 40-ranked host East Carolina and eventual CAA champion UNCW. The Panthers’ final round of 290 was the low of the three-round tournament on Oct. 11.
24. The women’s team earned an invitation to the ITA Division I Kickoff Weekend in the opening round of the invitation-only ITA National Team Indoor Championship. GSU traveled across town to Georgia Tech’s Bill Moore tennis center to compete. On Jan. 28, No. 54-ranked GSU defeated No. 43-ranked CAA rival William & Mary, 4-2, to show the potential ahead for the outdoor season to come. An injured Abigail Tere-Apisah played on a sore ankle, but still provided a win for GSU. The Panthers defeated William & Mary one day after bowing to No. 13 Tech on its home court and one week after defeating No. 62 Wake Forest in a solid start to 2012.
25. Baseball’s season went down to extra innings of the final game of the season. On the road at Old Dominion, GSU had won on Friday to set up the final day Saturday drama. GSU needed to defeat Old Dominion and needed Towson to lose against preseason CAA favorite James Madison. After seven innings on the final day of the season, GSU was leading 4-2 and Towson was losing 4-2. Six more outs to go. ODU rallied to tie GSU 4-4 to force extra innings in Norfolk. Towson rallied to tie JMU in the bottom of the ninth at 4-4 to force extra innings. At 4:40 p.m., the season was still all on the line. GSU responded to claim an 8-4 final day 12-inning win as the Panthers pounded out 18 hits, second most on the season in the three hour, 48-minute win. But, Towson scored to win its game and the Panthers would be one game short of the tournament berth.
Weren't those some great memories? Makes you proud to be a Panther, doesn't it?