D’Marcus Simonds 27 points helped the Georgia State Panthers cruise to a 77-63 victory over the Troy Trojans Wednesday evening at the GSU Sports Arena.
The Panthers sought to end their two-game losing streak against the Trojans after suffering losses to Louisiana Monroe and the University of Louisiana.
The last time these two teams faced off, Troy defeated the Panthers in Alabama on a last-second three-pointer by Jordan Vernardo.
For the Panthers, they looked to get revenge off of that loss and continue their hunt for the Sun Belt regular season title.
As for the Trojans, they needed a win to get back to .500 and sweep the Panthers for the regular season matchup.
Both teams got off to a fast start early. The Trojans were hot from downtown going 3-5 in the first five minutes of the game.
Trojans forward Javan Johnson led the way with six points going 2-3 from three-point land to give them an early 8-3 lead.
Panthers fans were excited to see Simmonds get off to a great early start as he scored all of the Panthers 10 points in the first five minutes of the game.
The Trojans still lead 11-10 going into the first media timeout.
The Trojans continued to feed off of their momentum as they traded buckets with the Panthers to lead 20-17 going into the second media timeout of the game.
As the Panthers defense settled in, they forced the Trojans to have no field goals for 5:51.
Panthers guard Devin Mitchell hit a jumper and converted on a tough layup, giving the Panthers gained their first lead of the game at 32-28.
As halftime neared, Panthers guard Kane Williams went 2-2 from the free throw line to extend the Panthers lead to six, giving them a 34-28 lead.
As the first half came to a close, the Trojans scored five straight points due to a layup by Zay Williams and three-pointer by Spencer Rodgers to close the Panthers lead to one, going into halftime down 34-33.
The second half began with the Panthers coming out hot on offense. After Mitchell made one of his two free throws, Jeff Thomas made a three-pointer on the ensuing offensive possession.
A missed three-pointer by the Trojans led to a Simonds tip-in on the next possession.
A steal by Thomas, lead to him getting a layup on the offensive end, igniting an 8-0 run, forcing the Trojans to call a timeout with 17:11 to go in the second half.
The Trojans managed to only score three points thanks to the play of the Panthers 2-3 defense.
Three-pointers from Mitchell and Thomas helped orchestrate a quick 6-0 run forcing the Trojans to call another timeout making the score 51-36 with 13:46 to go in the second half.
With less than six minutes to go, the Trojans were desperate for a comeback, down 66-53. Devante Foster and Mitchell traded three-point buckets to keep the lead at 13.
At 3:12, Trojans forward Alex Hicks went to the charity stripe to cut the Panthers lead to nine. Malik Benlevi rebounded on the missed free throw by Hicks but was fouled hard by Foster.
Both players exchanged words about the physical contact and were accessed double technicals.
For Benlevi, that made it five fouls for him ending his night with four points, three rebounds and one steal.
Nelson Phillips drained both free throws for the Panthers, extending the lead back to 12 at 71-59.
It was time for the Trojans to take advantage of Benlevi’s absence and generate a comeback to win or force overtime.
Panthers forward Tyson Jordan and Simonds killed that opportunity. Jordan broke up an alley-oop attempt giving the Panthers full control of the game.
Simonds made both free throws and made a layup on the ensuing possession to put the game out of reach.
This helped the Panthers to ice the game a win, 77-63.
Simonds finished with 27 points on 47 percent shooting, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. He also set a school record with 589 made field goals, passing Chavelo Holmes.
“I thought we were better defensively today. I thought D’Marcus [Simonds] was good tonight and thought he only took three or four bad shots. I liked his energy and I think we just have to continue to keep getting better,” said head coach Ron Hunter on the Panther’s win.
“It’s funny we have been talking about the seniors playing with a lot of pressure but I think lately D’Marcus [Simonds] has taken that, “I don’t care what happens attitude.” Right now he is playing the best basketball of his career,” said Hunter of Simmonds play since the win against Georgia Southern.
The Panthers will host the South Alabama Jaguars tomorrow night at seven. They control their own destiny for the Sun Belt regular season title.