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Panthers claim first from Trojans with 102-88 win

Sports Writer

The Troy State-Georgia State matchup may not have the flash of Duke-Maryland, but Saturday night the game established itself as the top rivalry in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Unfortunately, for TSU, the Panthers have the upperhand.

Thomas Terrell led five Panthers in double-figures with 34 points, 21 coming in the first half, as Georgia State took over first place in the A-Sun with a 102-88 win at Trojan Arena.

The loss drops the Trojans to 12-6 in the A-Sun and 16-9 overall. Georgia State, which has won the last four meetings with TSU, improved to 13-6 in the A-Sun and 17-9 overall.

The Panthers took control when Lemayn Wilson and Robert Rushing went to the bench with two fouls apiece midway through the first half.

Terrell’s fourth three of the half gave GSU a 26-24 lead and Terrell proceeded to hit three more treys in a row late in the half to give the Panthers a 44-34 advantage. The Panthers headed into the locker room leading 48-39.

TSU head coach Don Maestri said the early foul trouble was a major factor in the game.

"We were hoping to get a good start to start the second half because we were down nine at the half with the three seniors sitting on the bench because of foul trouble," Maestri said. "We felt that the guys that replaced them did a great job to battle to keep us under double-digits. We thought if we could go into the half under double-digits without Robert, Lemayn and Donnie (Pemberton) playing, then we’d have a legitimate chance to win the game."

But the Panthers squashed that theory, scoring the first six points of the second half to open a 55-39 lead. The Trojans were 1-for-6 in field goal attempts in the first 3:56 of the second half and committed three turnovers and never recovered as GSU maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half.

"We were out of sync, but you have to hand it to Georgia State, they played a hell of a game," senior Robert Rushing said. "Thomas Terrell had a hell of a game. That was one of the best performances I have seen shooting the ball here."

TSU battled back to cut the deficit to 65-58 with 9:24 remaining in the game on two free throws by Rushing, but the Trojans would get no closer as Terrell hit another three-pointer and Cedric Patton added another trey during a 14-4 run that pushed the lead back to 16 with 4:38 left.

Maestri said the deficit took its toll on the Trojans.

"They stretched the lead out on us and then it was a battle trying to just chip away and chip away. We did a good job of chipping away, I think we got it down to seven, but then they would make a big shot. I mean this was Georgia State’s night."

Wilson, who was held to just 11 points, eight under his season average, said the Trojans showed a lot of heart coming back and hopes to see the Panthers again.

"We want to see them again. We showed some positive things during the negative things, but we’re going to get them in the tournament. That’s what I’m waiting on, the tournament."

Rushing finished with 19 points and Ben Fletcher had 18 for Troy State.