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Late baskets by Freeman lift Old Dominion past Georgia State

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NORFOLK, Va. — After spending the first half settling for long jumpers that weren’t falling, Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman was instructed to be more aggressive.

With the game slipping away late in the second half, Freeman began turning those words into action.

Freeman scored 10 of his 21 points inside the final four minutes of regulation and overtime as Old Dominion rallied past Georgia State 58-54 on Wednesday night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Georgia State led 50-42 when Freeman sandwiched two jumpers around two free throws from guard Aaron Bacote, then nailed a driving layup with 57 seconds left to tie the score at 50.

In overtime, the Panthers led 54-52 when Freeman’s layup tied it again heading into the final minute. Then Freeman scooped in a driving layup with 35 seconds left for the winner.

Afterwards, Freeman shrugged off his late-game heroics, saying he was simply doing what coach Jeff Jones told him to do.

It took Jones to acknowledge there was a bit more to it than that.

“One of the great things about Trey is, he’s not afraid of the big moment,” Jones said.

Forward Jonathan Arledge threw down a transition dunk as time expired to account for the final margin.

The victory was the fifth straight for Old Dominon (8-1) and its first in four meetings with Georgia State.

Guard Ryan Harrow scored 16 points and guard R.J. Hunter added 13 for the Panthers (6-3), who went straight from their locker room to their team bus during Old Dominion’s press conference and were not available for comment.

Harrow and Hunter combined to make just 11 of 35 field goal attempts.

Before Freeman heated up, it looked like Harrow would be the star of the night. Georgia State trailed 42-39 when Harrrow made a layup and buried a 3-pointer to give the Panthers the lead.

His baskets kick-started an 11-0 Georgia State run helped by Old Dominion going 0 of 9 from the field, committing four turnovers and playing 8:01 without a point.

After seizing an eight-point lead, the Panthers didn’t score during the final 5:51 of regulation. And while Freeman handled the scoring, it was Old Dominion’s defense spearheaded by forward Denzell Taylor that set the stage for the comeback.

Taylor, a rangy 6-7 forward, was all over the floor as the Monarchs turned up the pressure, at various points guarding ball handlers, face guarding Harrow and clearing the boards. His block of forward T.J. Snipes’ layup with 26 seconds left set the Monarchs up for one final possession, and he grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled just before the final buzzer.

With two chances to end the game, Taylor missed both free throws. Still, the Monarchs had no issues with Taylor’s efforts.

“His impact on the game was just crazy,” Freeman said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have even been in that situation.”

Even with Freeman finding the range late, the Monarchs finished the game shooting just 34.9 percent. The poor shooting started early, too.

Four days after lighting up North Carolina A&T with 54 percent shooting from the field, the Monarchs made just four of their first 17 shots against an active Georgia State zone. The Panthers, meanwhile, got to the rim repeatedly and hit nine of their first 12 shots to build a 22-12 lead.

The Monarchs kept the deficit from being even greater by pounding the offensive glass (a 9-3 halftime edge) and creating enough second chances to head into the break down just 27-23 after a layup by Freeman with five seconds left in the half.

Georgia State cooled considerably after its hot start and finished the half shooting 45 percent from the floor.

Bacote led all scorers with eight first-half points. The Monarchs made just 29 percent of their first-half shots from the field. Freeman made just one of his eight first-half shots.

“I’m not sure how we did it,” Jones said. “But when it was put-up-or-shut-up time, our guys responded.

NOTES: Georgia State guards R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow came in averaging a combined 43.2 points per game, the most of any duo in the country. … Before Wednesday, the Panthers trailed the series with the Monarchs 15-5 but had won the past three. Old Dominion’s last victory over Georgia State had been a 65-60 overtime decision

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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