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Courtesy: UTSA Athletics

UTSA falls to Georgia State, 82-71, in Sears BracketBusters contest

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ATLANTA, Ga. — Juniors Kannon Burrage and Michael Hale III combined to score 39 points, but Georgia State had five players in double figures and the Panthers scored an 82-71 victory against UTSA in a Sears BracketBusters contest on Saturday night at GSU Sports Arena.

Devonta White and Rashaad Richardson scored 16 apiece to lead Georgia State (19-9), while Eric Buckner (14), Jihad Ali (13) and James Fields (10) also reached double digits.

Burrage poured in 21 his third 20-point outing of the season, on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, while Hale III knocked down 6-of-12 en route to 18 for the Roadrunners (15-12), who were making their first-ever BracketBusters appearance.

“Georgia State played really well,” head coach Brooks Thompson said. “They got after us early in both halves, but our guys fought really hard to get back into the game. I’m proud of the way we played tonight, but they just shot the ball really well and played very well overall tonight.”

Georgia State’s balanced scoring and hot shooting (56.9 percent) proved to be the difference in the 14th all-time meeting between the two former Trans America Athletic Conference foes.

After a late first-half run by the Roadrunners turned a 15-point deficit into a 45-38 halftime margin, the Panthers opened the second half with a 14-5 run over the first seven minutes and they built a commanding 16-point lead.

Richardson later connected from long distance for the fourth time to give Georgia State a 62-45 lead, but UTSA trimmed the deficit to single digits with a 10-2 run over the three-and-a-half minutes to make it a nine-point game with 9:25 to play.

A layup by sophomore Igor Nujic made it 66-57 with 8:46 remaining, but the Panthers scored six unanswered as part of an 11-3 stretch over the next four-and-a-half minutes to put the game out of reach.

Richardson had half of Georgia State’s eight 3-pointers, while Hale II (three) and Burrage (two) combined for five of UTSA’s 11 treys. Senior Stephen Franklin also knocked down three long balls, as the Roadrunners shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc and 47.3 percent from the floor overall. UTSA also made 8-of-9 (88.9 percent) at the free-throw line.

The Panthers led by as many as 15 in a fast-paced first half.

After a Burrage layup made it 19-16 in favor of Georgia State seven minutes into the contest, Richardson drilled a trio of 3-pointers in a 1:30 span to help the Panthers open up a 30-20 advantage with just under nine minutes in the half. Richardson then knocked down a mid-range jumper to give him 11 points and Georgia State a 37-22 lead with 5:25 on the clock.

UTSA trailed by a 43-30 count, but it used an 8-2 run over the final 2:15 of the first stanza that was keyed by threes from Hale III and Franklin to reduce the margin to seven at intermission.

Hale III matched Richardson with 11 first-half points, while Burrage added eight to help UTSA shoot 46.7 percent, including 6-of-15 (40 percent) from downtown. Junior Melvin Johnson III had the first of those threes, but only played three minutes in the first half and 10 for the game due to foul trouble.

The Roadrunners return to Southland Conference play on Wednesday, Feb. 22, when they head to the Coastal Bend for a 7 p.m. contest at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-21, 3-9 SLC).

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