What You Need to Know:
* No. 2 seed Georgia State earned an 86-76 win over No. 7 seed Louisiana on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Championship.
* Senior Jeremy Hollowell recorded a second-straight double-double with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the Panthers.
* Sun Belt Freshman of the Year D'Marcus Simonds scored a team-high 17 points and added eight rebounds in the win.
NEW ORLEANS-Led by double-double from senior Jeremy Hollowell, No. 2-seed Georgia State earned an 86-76 win over No. 7-seed Louisiana on Friday night in the Sun Belt Conference quarterfinals.
Hollowell grabbed his second-straight double-double, finishing with 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. He was one of four Panthers in double figures as Sun Belt Freshman of the Year D’Marcus Simonds led Georgia State with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Malik Benlevi added 15 points, while Isaiah Williams scored 14.
Georgia State improved to 20-11 with the win, the seventh 20-plus win season in program history. Louisiana saw its seven-game winning streak snapped and fell to 21-12.
It marked the third time in four seasons Georgia State and Louisiana met in the conference tournament. In the previous two instances, the winner eventually won the conference championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were led by Jay Wright who scored 27 points, but foul trouble plagued Louisiana the entire game as six players picked up at least four fouls.
Georgia State took advantage going 27-of-37 from the free throw line, while also outrebounding Louisiana 44-31. The Panthers held the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 5-of-26 from 3-point range.
“I’ve said it all year, but our defense has been winning us games and it was no different tonight,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “Our seniors stepped up big-time tonight in a game that was filled with emotion. We limited our turnovers and I thought played pretty smart down the stretch.”
After Georgia State made a pair of free throws to start the game, Louisiana scored seven-straight points to take a 7-2 lead with 16:27 to play.
On a 3-pointer by Simonds, Georgia State regained the lead 13-12 with 10:46 remaining in the opening half. Following a free throw by Stove to tie the game, the Panthers responded with a 12-3 run to take a 25-16 lead with 5:48 to play, causing Louisiana to call its first timeout.
Georgia State went into the locker room leading 35-26, using 46.7 percent shooting and holding the Ragin’ Cajuns to just 32.3 percent shooting and 2-of-11 from 3-point range.
Leading by seven, Georgia State used an 8-0 run to push the lead to 43-28 with 17:36 to play. While the Panthers were building the double-digit lead, Louisiana picked up seven fouls before the first media timeout of the second half, allowing the Georgia State to go to the line 30 times in the second half.
Louisiana would get as close as six, 66-60, with 5:36 to play, as Jerekius Davis scored eight-straight Ragin’ Cajun points.
Georgia State would push the lead back to as many as 13 points, finishing the second half 22-of-30 from the line.
Bryce Washington added 17 points for Louisiana, but was held to just three rebounds. He is among the nation’s leaders in double-doubles. Johnathan Stove scored 14 points.
Georgia State will advance to face the winner of No. 2 Georgia Southern and No. 6 Troy on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET live on WatchESPN from Lakefront Arena. The game can be heard live on 1340 The Fan 3 with Dave Cohen and Brandon Leak. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.
Notes: Georgia State improved to 4-2 in conference tournament games since returning to the league four years ago…The Panthers improved to 26-31 all-time in conference tournament games…Head coach Ron Hunter is now responsible for four of the Panthers seven 20-plus win seasons…Jeremy Hollowell has three career double-doubles, including two this year which have come in the last two games…The Panthers have nine wins away from home this year, tied for the fourth-most in program history…Georgia State swept the three-game season series from Louisiana…Georgia State improved to 12-5 in the month of March since the start of 2014.