GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman-Junior D’Marcus Simonds scored a team-high 25 points and freshman Nelson Phillips just missed his first career double-double to give Georgia State a 75-65 win over St. Bonaventure on Monday on the first day of the Cayman Islands Classic.
Georgia State (3-1) won its second straight game and advances in the winner’s bracket to face Creighton on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. Clemson and Georgia will square off in the other semifinal match-up.
Simonds finished 11-of-20 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds to go along with three assists, two blocked shots and two steals. He moved into a tie for ninth place with Nate Williams on Georgia State’s all-time scoring list with 1,122 points.
Phillips finished with career-highs of 12 points and nine rebounds while adding two assists and two steals in the win.
St. Bonaventure (1-3) was led by Jalen Poyser who finished with 23 points and four rebounds.
“I thought defensively we really stepped up tonight,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “To force 18 turnovers against a very good A-10 team shows me how good we can be. I’m equally impressed with the continued improvement of Nelson Phillips. He has the ability to be a very special player and showed that tonight.”
Hunter, who is in his eighth year at the helm of the Panthers, picked up his 150th win as the head coach of Georgia State.
St. Bonaventure took an early 10-5 lead just over five minutes into the game before the Panthers responded with an 11-0 run to build a six-point lead with 10:25 to play in the first half.
Leading by four, Phillips went on a 5-0 run by himself and a free throw later by Benlevi gave the Panthers with a 33-23 lead with just under two minutes to play.
The Bonnies hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minute to cut into Georgia State’s lead, but the Panthers still went into the locker room with a 37-32 lead. The Panthers forced 11 turnovers in the first half, while also blocking four shots.
After St. Bonaventure cut Georgia State’s lead to just three points, the Panthers responded with a 9-0 run to lead 49-37 with 14:37 to play in the second half.
Senior Malik Benlevi would score eight straight points for Georgia State and the Panthers would push the lead to as many as 15, 55-40 with 12:53 remaining.
The Bonnies cut the lead to 63-55 with 7:00 to play before Georgia State pushed it back into double figures for the rest of the game.
Benlevi finished with 13 points, while Kane Williams added six points, six assists, and four steals.
Kyle Lofton added 13 points for St. Bonaventure which ended the game with four players in double figures.
- Senior Jordan Tyson, who is in his second year with the Panthers, played two seasons with St. Bonaventure before transferring to GSU. He finished with two points and a rebound in 10 minutes.
- The Panthers improved to 3-1 for the third time in four seasons.
- The Panthers now have 14 wins over current members of the A-10.
- Georgia State has posted a 12-11 record in MTE’s in the first eight seasons that Hunter has been the head coach of the Panthers.
Tuesday’s contest can be heard live on WAOK-AM 1380 and WRAS-FM 88.5 with Dave Cohen, now in his 36th year as the Voice of the Panthers, calling the action. The game will also air live on Stadium for free through their Facebook page with Noah Coslov, Doug Gottlieb, and Tim Scarborough calling the action. Live statistics and live audio will be available at GeorgiaStateSports.com and on most mobile devices.