Photo courtesy MSU Athletics
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Quinndary Weatherspoon scored with eight seconds left to lift Mississippi State to a 61-59 victory over Dayton on Sunday.
Dayton (3-3) tied the game at 59-all thanks to a free throw from Darrell Davis with 1:08 left in regulation. The Flyers then held for the final shot only to have Weatherspoon steal the ball and go coast to coast for the game-winning shot.
Tyson Carter led Mississippi State (7-0) with 20 points while Weatherspoon finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
"I really wanted to get a shot up and I didn't want to settle for a 3," said Weatherspoon. "I wanted to get as deep as I could in the lane before time ran out and I ended up with the layup. I saw Nick (Weatherspoon) knock the ball out of his hands and I was hustling to get it before the defender did."
Mississippi State built a 41-20 lead early in the second half only to see the Flyers reel off a 13-0 run to climb back into the game. Dayton managed to tie the game twice in the final 2:54 of action but never took the lead in the second half.
"I feel very blessed and fortunate to hold on and get the win," said Mississippi State coach Ben Howland. "We did a great job, defensively, in the first half and got off to a good start in the second half. But in the last 15 minutes, I don't remember us having a high-post touch and we stopped looking in the post. So you see we've got a lot of work to do but give Dayton a lot of credit. They started to be more aggressive with their trapping in the second half."
Jalen Crutcher led Dayton with 18 points while Davis added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Cunningham also finished in double digits with 16 points for the Flyers.
The lead went back and forth in the first three minutes of the first half before the Bulldogs started to gain control. Carter drained a 3-pointer midway through the first half to give Mississippi State a 21-13 advantage. Aric Holman's 3-pointer extended that lead to 35-17 in the closing minutes of the first half before the Bulldogs settled into a 35-20 lead at halftime.
Dayton committed 16 turnovers in the first half and shot just 33.3 percent from the field. Mississippi State shot 48.3 percent in the first half and also had 10 turnovers.
For the game, Dayton finished with a season-high 26 turnovers as did Mississippi State with 24 turnovers.
"I was proud of the effort from our guys to battle back but our 26 turnovers were the story of the game," said Dayton coach Anthony Grant. "We continued to battle and competed to give ourselves a chance at the end there. But it didn't work out and Mississippi State made the play."
The Flyers shot 45.7 percent for the game while the Bulldogs were a bit better at 48 percent. Mississippi State attempted just seven free throws the entire game while Dayton was 9 of 16 at the line.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have now posted their best start (7-0) since going 13-0 in the 2003-04 campaign. Sophomore point guard Lamar Peters made his return to the floor Sunday against Dayton and missed the previous three games due to a team suspension.
Dayton: The Flyers' three wins this season all came against Mid-American Conference members. Those victories came against Ohio, Ball State and Akron, and the Flyers are 0-4 in other games this season.
Mississippi State concludes its season-opening, eight-game homestand on Saturday when North Georgia pays a visit.
Dayton returns home Wednesday as the Flyers host Tennessee Tech.