ATLANTA—R.J. Hunter scored 19 points and Manny Atkins added 15 as Georgia State earned its first Colonial Athletic Association win with a 68-52 victory over James Madison Saturday at the GSU Sports Arena.
James Vincent contributed 10 points and eight blocked shots, one off his career high, to help the Panthers (6-9, 1-1 CAA) snap their five-game losing streak and halt JMU’s (7-7, 1-1 CAA) four-game winning streak.
Georgia State also got strong contributions from freshman David Travers, who had seven points and three assists in 21 minutes, his most significant playing time of his rookie season. After hitting a free throw for his first collegiate point, he nailed a pair of dramatic three-point field goals, one at the first half buzzer and another in the second half with the shot clock about to expire.
Junior Devonta White added 11 points and dished out a career-high seven assists in 36 minutes of action.
The Panthers turned in one of their better defensive efforts of the season in holding James Madison to 52 points and 30.9 percent shooting from the field, the lowest figure for a GSU opponent since Monmouth managed just 27.8 percent shooting in the third game of the season.
“I have been telling the team if we hold our opponents under 60 points, we are going to win a lot of games,” commented head coach Ron Hunter after the game. “Our confidence has been hurting after some tough losses and today was the type of performance that we really needed.
“Our guys have continued to fight even when things got tough and that is how I knew we were getting better. Manny played with a lot of confidence today, James Vincent played with the type of senior leadership I expect and David Travers came off the bench to give us some great minutes.”
On the offensive end, Georgia State shot 47 percent from field, including 10-for-21 from three-point range.
With his eight blocked shots, Vincent raised his career total to 104 and moved into fifth place in school history. The senior from Columbus, Ga., leads the CAA in blocked shots.
Georgia State closed the first half with a 13-4 run to open up a 38-25 halftime lead. Hunter made a pair of treys on the run, and Travers ended the half with a three-pointer at the buzzer, falling to the ground as he made his first collegiate field goal.
The Panthers shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first half, including 8-for-13 from beyond the arc, while holding the Dukes to less than 30 percent (8-for-27). That marked GSU’s highest output in a first half since scoring 43 against South Alabama on Nov. 21. Hunter (13 points) and Atkins (12) combined for 25 of the Panthers’ 38 points.
In the second half, James Madison managed to pull within nine points at 53-44 with nine minutes to play, but Atkins contributed a three-point play to push GSU’s lead to 56-44 and then took a charge on the other end. From there, the Panthers’ lead never dipped below double-digits.
Rayshawn Goins led James Madison with 19 points and 16 rebounds. A.J. Davis came off the bench to score 10 points and grab eight rebounds for the Dukes.
Georgia State faces its first CAA road game Monday at Hofstra in a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y. Live radio coverage is available on WRAS-FM 88.5.