Defensively, UALR did more than enough. Offensively, UALR didn’t do nearly enough. The result was a disappointing 67-58 loss to Georgia State on Thursday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
UALR shut down R.J. Hunter, the likely Sun Belt player of the year, but couldn’t follow that up with anything on the offensive end. UALR shot 36.8 percent from the field but made only 2 of 14 three-pointers. And both of those treys came after the game’s outcome had already been decided.
But worse than all of that, UALR got pounded on the boards 41-35 by a Georgia State team that is dreadful at rebounding.
It leaves Georgia State at 10-0 in Sun Belt play and riding a 14-game winning streak. UALR drops to 7-4 and badly needs a victory against Western Kentucky on Saturday if it has any hopes of securing one of the top two seeds at next month’s Sun Belt Tournament.
James White had 14 points and 7 rebounds to lead UALR. Josh Hagins and Leroy Isler added 11 points.
But UALR got next to nothing offensively from Will Neighbour, the reigning Sun Belt player of the week. Neighbour, who badly injured an ankle late in last Saturday’s game at South Alabama, was visibly limping throughout the night. He played 26 minutes, scoring just 4 points while grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds.
Isler stifled Hunter from the start and put the Georgia State star in foul trouble most of the night. Hunter still finished with 14 points in 23 minutes. But one of his two three-pointers came with Isler out of the game.
While the Trojans largely shut Hunter down, they couldn’t do anything with Ryan Harrow early and Devonta White late. Harrow had 13 points while White had 22 and dominated the second half.
UALR trailed 29-21 at halftime but got off to a dream start to the second half. Isler baited Hunter into a fourth personal foul and UALR rallied to take a 32-31 lead on a free throw by Isler with 15:08 left.
Then the Trojans self destructed. Hagins had back-to-back turnovers when UALR had offensive numbers. Then an Isler turnover led to a layup by GSU’s Manny Atkins. Another turnover by Stetson Billings led to a layup by Devonta White and a 40-35 GSU lead.
UALR’s inability to score then finally caught up with them. Georgia State pushed the lead to 12 points and cruised to the victory.