2022 Sun Belt championship game: Georgia State defeats Louisiana to claim NCAA Tournament bid
Photo: A.J. Henderson/Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State is headed back to the NCAA Tournament following an 80-71 victory over Louisiana in the 2022 Sun Belt championship game in Pensacola.

Corey Allen led the Panthers with 29 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Eliel Nsoseme recorded a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Georgia State (18-10), whose season featured several pauses due to COVID-related issues, won their tenth straight game and third NCAA berth in the last four years.

Louisiana (16-15), which fell one win shy of their first NCAA bid since 2014, was paced by Jordan Brown, who scored 24. Greg Williams Jr. added 15.

Story of the game

Through the first six minutes, it was a close game as Georgia State led 13-11. The Panthers then began opening things up, going on an 8-1 run, capped by a three-pointer by Ja'Heim Hudson, to take a 21-12 lead.

Allen nailed a triple to put the third seed in front by double digits for the first time in the game. Georgia State maintained that working margin as Nsoseme hit a pair of jumpers to make it 39-29.

Brown hit back-to-back shots to trim the deficit to six before another three, the fourth of the half, gave the Panthers a 42-33 advantage headed to the locker room.

Both teams were lighting it up from distance, exchanging threes on four consecutive possessions and Allen and Evan Johnson brought the lead back up to 51-41 with 14:51 to play.

Louisiana then went on a 12-4 run that sliced the lead to 55-52 on a pair of free throws by Brown, but the lead was quickly back to ten after a jumper by Jalen Thomas.

The Ragin Cajuns, trying to win their fourth game in as many nights, got no closer than seven over the final four minutes as Georgia State iced the game at the free-throw line.