UT Arlington knew it would have to make stops late in the game to beat Georgia State, but it couldn’t stop R.J. Hunter.
The Panthers’ all-time leading scorer turned in a masterful performance against a valiant Mavericks team that gave Georgia State all it could handle. Hunter made seven 3-pointers and finished with 32 points — including four in the final five minutes — to sink UTA 88-74 Thursday at the College Park Center.
“He can flat play,” coach Scott Cross said. “He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached against.”
Hunter combined with Ryan Harrow to score 46 of Georgia State’s 54 second-half points in a two-man comeback. Despite leading for much of the way, UTA (12-8, 6-4 Sun Belt) had no answers down the stretch.
After UTA extended its lead to 11 midway through the second half, the Panthers (14-7, 7-3) turned on a switch that the Mavericks couldn’t shut off. They outscored UTA 37-12 in the final 10 minutes of the game and beat UTA for the fourth straight game.
The loss overshadowed the best performance of Kevin Hervey’s young career. Hervey scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds to pace the Mavericks.
The Mavericks didn’t have trouble getting the ball past the Georgia State zone in the early minutes, and Hervey reaped the benefits by finding a sweet spot at the top of the key.
Despite falling behind early, the Mavericks stayed within four and took the lead when Hervey hit a corner 3-pointer. Lonnie McClanahan helped extend the lead with eight points in the first half.
As is becoming a trend for UTA against the Panthers, they kept pace until a second-half surge doomed them.
“You have to make things difficult for teams that can shoot as well as they do,” Cross said. “We didn’t do that tonight.”
The Mavericks will have to put the loss behind them when they look to avenge an earlier loss to Troy on Saturday at College Park Center.