Seattle, Wash.-Cold first-half shooting was too much for Georgia State to overcome as the Panthers fell to Portland 66-61 on Sunday night in the World Vision Classic at Alaska Airlines Arena. Three Panthers scored in double figures, but State managed to shoot just 36.4 percent for the game.
Both teams, playing their second games in less than 24 hours, came out shooting poorly, but Portland was able to recover over the final 30 minutes of the game. Georgia State (0-2) opened the game hitting just 3-of-17 over the first 8:07 and never fully recovered.
"Our team is learning that winning is a process," commented head coach Ron Hunter after the loss. "Last night we lost to a very good Washington team and tonight we lost to a very smart Portland team that won 20 games last season. We have played two teams that know how to win and that is what we are working to built here.
"We were able to get the game tied in the second half, but made too many mistakes to get a win. We missed several assignments and open lay-ups that proved to be costly. The good thing is that it is a long season and we are going to get it corrected."
After trailing 11-9, Portland (2-0) built a 27-15 lead off a 14-0 run, finishing the first half shooting 50 percent from the floor and 60 percent from three-point range.
The Panthers bounced back with a 6-1 run to end the half, forcing four straight Pilot turnovers to go into the half down 31-23. Georgia State forced 19 turnovers in the game which led to 22 points.
Georgia State finished the first half shooting just 29.4 percent from the floor, including just 1-of-9 from three-point range.
GSU heated up in the second half, using a pressure defense to force Portland into 11 of its 19 turnovers.
Freshman Tony Kimbro Jr., who finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 3-of-4 from the free throw line, cut the Pilots second half lead to 45-41 with a put-back with 10:12 to play.
"Tony is getting better and better everyday," commented Hunter. "He was hurt in the preseason and that set him back a little, but he is now starting to get his legs under him and he is starting to play a lot better."
Following a pair of Kimbro free throws, senior Brandon McGee capped a 9-2 run with a lay-up to tie the game at 47.
McGee finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Panthers took their first lead of the second half following Kimbro's third free-throw. A possession later, the freshman's steal and outlet pass to sophomore Devonta White allowed the Panthers to take a 52-49 lead.
That was the last lead for the Panthers as Portland finished the game on a 17-9 run over the final 6:28.
Senior Eric Buckner finished the game with 13 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and grabbing a team-high eight boards. White scored 12 points and dished out five assists.
Nemanja Mitrovic led Portland with 13 points and six rebounds, while Tim Douglas added 12 and Ryan Nicholas scored 10.
Portland finished the game shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 40 percent from behind the arc, holding a 35-33 advantage on the boards.
Georgia State will conclude the World Vision Classic on Monday night facing former conference foe Florida Atlantic at 7 p.m. The game will air live on WRAS-FM 88.5. Live stats can be found at GeorgiaStateSports.com.