LAS VEGAS - An 11-point barrage to close the first half and clutch free throw shooting inside the final 30 seconds enabled No. 15 Mississippi State to salt away a 61-57 triumph over Saint Mary's during in the third place game of the MGM Resorts Main Event on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.
After dropping a 72-67 tightly-contested decision to Arizona State inside the final minute Monday night, the Bulldogs (4-1) turned the tables by playing sharp, crisp basketball with key baskets and timely free throws to salt away the four-point victory over the Gaels (3-2).
Lamar Peters reeled off all 11 of his points during the second half. He also dished out five assists against one turnover.
Tyson Carter and Quinndary Weatherspoon registered a team-leading 12 points apiece on matching 5-of-11 shooting clips. The duo piled up 22 of its 24 points during the opening 20 minutes.
The 12 points allowed Weatherspoon to move pass Ravern Johnson (2008-09-10-11) and Cameron Burns (1989-90-91) for sole possession of 13th place on MSU's scoring list. He has pieced together double figures in five straight games to start the season.
Aric Holman compiled a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with nine points. He racked up four of MSU's six blocks on the defensive end.
Nick Weatherspoon added six points and handed out three assists. He also played suffocating defense on Saint Mary's leading scorer Jordan Ford down the stretch.
Mississippi State received key contributions from Robert Woodard II and Reggie Perry. Woodard II clamed six points and three rebounds, while Perry garnered four points and five rebounds during his first career start. KeyShawn Feazell rounded out the scoring with a pair of free throws.
The teams were even in points in the paint at 32, while Saint Mary's managed a 37-34 advantage in the rebounding column. The Bulldogs were able to grab key boards on the defensive end late in the second half.
FROM THE BENCH WITH COACH HOWLAND
"We're playing really hard and held them to 37 percent of the defensive end. It was another slow start, but that's a good team and a tough program to play against. They're going to win 20 games and finish towards the top of their league like they have the last 10 years. We missed Abdul tonight and his post defense. I really thought Lamar gave us a lift in the second half when we were struggling to score. He had five assists against one turnover and could have easily had 10 assists, but we missed some shots."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After four ties and six lead changes, the Bulldogs took the lead for good at 52-50 with 4:46 left on a Robert Woodard II layup courtesy of a driving Lamar Peters. Then, Peters found a slashing Aric Holman for a two-handed dunk to make it 54-50 at the 3:05 mark.
Off an inbounds play, Peters canned a stepback 14-footer just inside the free throw line to bring the tally to 56-53 with 1:25 to go.
Mississippi State got the stop it needed on the defensive end when Holman came up big with a blocked shot on a Jordan Ford layup attempt for the Gaels. Holman also snagged a critical offensive rebound on the ensuing possession which forced Saint Mary's to foul with the shot clock off.
The Bulldogs drained 5-of-6 pressure free throws with Holman, Nick Weatherspoon and Peters all hitting on the front end of the 1-and-1 inside the last 18 seconds.
St. Mary's used an 11-0 spurt in the opening half to build a 17-6 lead during the opening seven minutes. Ford and Jordan Hunter combined for eight of the 11 points.
Mississippi State fired back behind the instant offense of Carter who rattled home a pair of three-pointers and a floater in the lane. A Quinndary Weatherspoon triple drew the Bulldogs to 2-21 with 6:24 on the clock.
Mississippi State grabbed the lead at 28-27 on a Quinndary Weatherspoon dunk and wrapped the half on an 11-0 run of its own. Weatherspoon tallied the final five points highlighted by a traditional three-point play to give the Maroon and White a 35-27 halftime lead.
A made basket by Carter gave the Bulldogs their largest lead at 42-34 with 14:57 left. However, the Gaels kept battling and pulled within one three times until forcing a 48-48 tie.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24-of-55 shots from the field (43.6 percent), 5-of-24 shots from three-point range (20.8 percent) and 8-of-10 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent).
The Gaels converted on 23-of-62 shots from the field (37.1 percent), 6-of-16 shots from three-point range (37.5 percent) and 5 of 8 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent).
Saint Mary's (3-2) received 23 points and three assists from Jordan Ford coupled with 10 points and nine rebounds from Malik Fitts.
Mississippi State returns to the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum and meets Alcorn State on Monday. Tip time is slated for 8 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed online only by SEC Network+ courtesy of the WatchESPN app.