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Shocked State

Eagles stun Georgia State in overtime

Shocked State

Shocked State

Georgia Southern forward Eric Ferguso...


    Georgia State scored the first 17 points of the game, and that probably should have been the end of the story.
    It wasn’t. Not even close.
    Georgia Southern trailed throughout regulation, but a 3-pointer by Eric Ferguson tied the game at 55-55 with 21 seconds left and the Eagles got 3s from Ferguson and C.J. Reed in overtime to defeat the Panthers, 68-64, Saturday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
    “I’m happy for our guys to know that they can win a game like this when things aren’t going well,” said GSU coach Charlton Young. “I told them that we were playing as bad as we possibly could, and we were right there, and sooner or later we were going to make a run.”
    The Eagles (6-7) took a 60-57 lead in overtime when Ferguson dished to Reed for his 3 — his only field goal of the game. A pair of Devonta White free throws cut it back to one point, but Reed found Ferguson for another 3 —from the same spot as the game-tying bomb at the end of regulation, to give the Eagles a 63-59 edge.
    On the other end of the floor, Tre Bussey picked a pass out of the air and dished to Reed, who returned the favor on the fast break with an over the shoulder pass that Bussey finished to put the Eagles up, 65-61, with 32 seconds remaining.
    “C.J.’s very unselfish, and I knew he was going to pass it,” Bussey said. “That’s why I ran so hard to get down there. I wanted to give him another option. I knew he’d give it up.”
    James Vincent air-balled a 10-foot jumper on the other end to give the ball back to the Eagles, and Cameron Baskerville sank a pair of free throws to make it a 67-61 advantage.
    A Manny Atkins 3 at the other end cut the Georgia Southern lead to 67-64, but a free throw by Reed sealed the deal for the Eagles.
    Ferguson led all scorers with 24 points. He finished regulation with 21, including the final eight points of the second half, to bring the Eagles back from a 55-47 deficit. The run began when R.J. Hunter, who matched Rashaad Richardson to lead Georgia State with 14 points, fouled out with 2:46 to go in regulation.
    Richardson fouled out in overtime.
    The Panthers (5-8) led by 10 with 1:58 remaining.
    A layup by Brian Holmes cut it to eight, and Ferguson took it from there, getting fouled on a jumper that he threw up with one hand, converting the and-one, and sinking two more free throws on the next trip down to cut it to 55-52. By that point, Ferguson knew he wanted the game-tying 3.
    “Me and Brian Holmes had eye contact with each other, and I told him to give me the ball,” Ferguson said. “I knew I was going to hit the shot. I just told him to get me the ball, and I didn’t even think about passing or looking at anybody. I knew I was going to shoot it.”
    The Eagles got off to as slow a first-half start as Georgia State could have hoped for.
    Out of the gate, the Eagles missed their first seven shots, including a pair of 3s, committed three fouls and turned it over five times.
    Meanwhile, the Panthers went on a 17-0 run.
    Vincent further hurt the Eagles’ cause by blocking five Southern shots in the first half.
    The bleeding finally stopped when Ferguson scored 6:34 after the opening tip to cut it to 17-2.
    The Eagles finally found an offensive rhythm and went on a run of their own, outscoring the Panthers 17-6 over the next 6 minutes.
    The run was helped in large part by a pair of Bussey 3-pointers, and the first Holmes 3 of his Georgia Southern career. Bussey finished with 17 points, while Reed only managed six and guard Cleon Roberts was shut out.
    “(Georgia State is) kind of young, and we’re kind of young, too,” Young said. “You saw Cleon Roberts tonight. It’s like you don’t even know who he is. That’s pressure. One night he’s going to come out and be Walt Frazier and the next night we don’t know who he is. Their team is kind of like that. We knew if we got close, we’d have a chance.”
    Ferguson scored seven of his 24 points in the first half.
    A defensive battle led to halftime, where State took a 29-21 advantage. 
    The Eagles head to Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 2, to face UAB.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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