LAFAYETTE, La.-Georgia State overcame a 15-point first half deficit before falling late to Louisiana 76-72 on Friday night at the Cajundome.
Trailing by two with just under 30 seconds to play, senior Devin Mitchell’s 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds to play was just off the mark allowing the Ragin’s Cajuns to hold on for the victory.
Georgia State (16-8, 7-4 Sun Belt) dropped its second straight game while Louisiana (14-10, 5-6 Sun Belt) snapped a three-game losing streak.
Mitchell finished with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, while junior D’Marcus Simonds, who was hampered by foul trouble in the second half, scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Freshman Nelson Phillips who made his first career start finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
JaKeenan Gant led the Ragin’ Cajuns with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Cedric Russell added 14.
Georgia State trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and 11 at halftime before opening the second half on a 17-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Simonds to take a 47-41 lead with 14:20 to play.
The Panthers held Louisiana scoreless for nearly six minutes of the second half run and limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 36.7 percent shooting in the second half.
“Although we are extremely disappointed with this loss, I’m extremely proud of how this team responded in the second half,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We dug ourselves a pretty big hole in the first half, but to come out the way we did in the second half shows me what this team is capable of. At the end of the day, we need to play that way for 40 minutes if we are going to win.”
Louisiana dominated the first half leading by as many 15 with 4:48 to play. Leading 25-19 the Ragin’ Cajuns used a 9-0 run to push the lead to 34-19 before the Panthers responded to cut the lead to 41-30 at halftime.
Louisiana shot 46.2 percent in the first half while the Panthers were held to just 37.0 percent shooting including 0-of-7 from 3-point range.
Sophomore Kane Williams came off the bench for a fourth straight game and finished with 11 points going 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Georgia State shot 50.0 percent for the game and 65.2 percent in the second half, going 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.
Louisiana finished the game shooting 41.1 percent and were 10-of-27 from 3-point range. The Ragin’ Cajuns went 20-of-23 from the free throw line.
Georgia State will return home and begin a two-game homestand facing Troy next Wednesday at 7 p.m.