After Elijah McCadden made two free throws to give Georgia Southern a 75-74 lead with 1.9 to play, the Eagles were whistled for a reach-in foul as Arkansas State inbounded to Willis. Willis, who came into the game a 61-percent free throw shooter, calmly sank them both for the one-point lead. GS inbounded to Calvin Wishart whose final three-quarter court heave was short.
Georgia Southern ties with Georgia State for fourth in the final Sun Belt standings but will be the fifth seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Tournament. The Panthers own the tiebreaker because they topped regular-season champ Little Rock tonight at home, while the Eagles lost to the Trojans on the road in January.
Georgia Southern will host the winner of eighth-seeded Louisiana vs. ninth-seeded Arkansas State Monday, March 9, in Hanner Fieldhouse in the Eagles' first Sun Belt Tournament game. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Ragin' Cajuns and Red Wolves play in the Cajundome Saturday night.
Eagles of the Game
Isaiah Crawley finished with his ninth career double-double, posting 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with five assists. Ike Smith collected 14 points, four rebounds and five assists, and Quan Jackson tallied 14 points and five steals. McCadden finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
After trailing by as many as 11 points early in the second half, Arkansas State (16-15, 8-12) scored eight straight points in 1:26 and took a 74-73 lead on a Marquis Eaton driving layup with 8.1 seconds remaining. The Eagles got the ball to McCadden, and Arkansas State was whistled for a foul as the sophomore was headed to the hoop. McCadden sank both free throws with 1.9 remaining to give the Eagles a brief 75-74 cushion.
The Eagles (18-13, 12-8) led by 10 after a Smith jumper with 7:42 to play, but Arkansas State scored the next eight to trim the margin to 66-64 with 4:14 remaining. With Southern ahead by two, Crawley hit a free throw and Smith scored two buckets in a row to give the Eagles a 73-66 advantage with 1:53 left.
J.J. Matthews scored an and-1 putback make it a four-point game, and after the teams traded empty offensive possessions, Eaton drilled a triple from the wing to cut the margin to 73-72 with 21.7 seconds remaining. The Red Wolves were whistled for a foul as the Eagles tried to inbound, but GS missed the front end of the 1-and-1 free throw.