ATLANTA – Senior forward Manny Atkins just missed a double-double as he scored a game-high 21 points with nine rebounds and senior guard Devonta White added 20 points to lead Georgia State to a 75-60 victory against UL Monroe Thursday night at the GSU Sports Arena.
Atkins became the fourth active Panther to reach the 1,000-point plateau in his career while helping the Panthers improve to 19-7 on the season and 12-1 in Sun Belt play. ULM fell to 8-13 overall and 5-8 in league action. Georgia State’s magic number is now two to clinch at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference regular season title.
White moved into fourth on GSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,294-points in his career and played in his 111 th game, moving into the top-10 in program history.
Atkins joined White, R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow in topping the century mark, the last two each also happening in the past week. It marked the third consecutive game a current Panther reached the plateau as GSU become just the third Division I school in the nation with four active players with at least 1,000 career points. The Panthers joined North Dakota State and Elon.
Georgia State found little offensive production from outside as the Panthers hit just 26.9 percent from long range on the night. Despite the sluggish 3-point shooting, GSU put the throttle down in the second half to push its advantage to more than 20 points midway through the period. It finished by hitting 47.4 percent (27 of 57) from the field, including just 7 of 26 beyond the arc. ULM also held a 37-32 advantage on the boards.
“Tonight got us one game closer to our goal,” head coach Ron Hunter said. “We are in a tough stretch right now with four games in eight days, but I keep telling the team that we are inching closer to that first goal of winning a regular season title and hanging a banner from our rafters.
“I love at the end of a season and seniors play well because they do not have too many collegiate games left. Devonta and Manny really played well tonight and then I thought our bench gave us a great effort as well.”
Sophomore Markus Crider came off the bench to play 24 minutes, recording a career-high 10 points and pulling down seven rebounds to go along with three blocked shots and two steals.
GSU made up for the lack of production from long range by being efficient with the ball. The Panthers committed just six turnovers (while ULM had 14) and had nine steals. Georgia State entered the game giving up the fewest turnovers in the NCAA.
Georgia State also posted 16 assists on 27 baskets while its defense limited the Warhawks to just 37.7 percent shooting (20 of 53) from the field.
Hunter scored the first five points of the game before Atkins started his final climb to 1,000. Atkins then drilled a pair of 3-pointers – the first off a steal and long pull-up in transition – to give GSU an 11-4 advantage. His free throw a short while later put him exactly on the 1,000-point mark.
The Panthers extended the lead to 14-4 on a trio of free throws from White, before ULM began to find its shot. After hitting just two of their first nine attempts from the floor, the Warhawks connected on six of the next seven attempts to keep the Panthers within reach.
ULM climbed within three points at 31-28 late in the first half before a 6-0 run pushed the Panther advantage to nine at the break on Hunter’s driving layup just before the buzzer. GSU extended it to a 12-0 run around the intermission with White collecting a pair of assists in transition for the biggest baskets. Harrow scored the final two buckets of the run in crowd-pleasing fashion, the first with a nifty up-and-under and the second with his first throw-down of the season.
Atkins then hit another 3 to make it a 47-31 Panther advantage and GSU never looked back, pushing the lead to 65-45 with just under 7 minutes to play. ULM went on a 9-0 run and eventually pulled within 10 points, but never got the deficit back within single digits.
Georgia State won for the 16 th time in the past 17 games as Atkins led four scorers in double figures. White added five assists with his 20 points while Hunter, one of the top scorers in the Sun Belt, had just 12 points.
Nick Coppola had 16 points and Tylor Ongwae scored 14 points for the Warhawks, who have lost six of their last eight contests.
GSU returns to action on Saturday for its fourth game in eight days, including third at home this week, as it plays host to UL Lafayette. The Panthers and Ragin’ Cajuns tip off at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, following the women’s game that starts at 6 p.m. Both contests will be seen regionally on CSS (Sun Belt Network).