SAN JOSE, California (MSU Athletics) – The trio of Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Robert Woodard II combined for 51 points, but Mississippi State was handed an 80-76 defeat by Liberty in a 5-12 matchup during Friday’s NCAA Round of 64 at the SAP Center, home of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
The Bulldogs (23-11) were making their return to March Madness for the first time since the 2008-09 season, while Liberty (29-6) advances to face either No. 16 Virginia Tech or Saint Louis in Sunday’s NCAA Round of 32.
Weatherspoon became the third player in program history to eclipse 2,000 career points as he poured in 15 of his 27 points after halftime. He knocked down 13-of-16 of his free throw attempts. The Canton native wrapped his career with 2,012 career points only behind Jeff Malone (1980-81-82-83) and Bailey Howell (1957-58-59). His 201 career steals also was third in program history trailing only Ray White (1976-77-78-79) and Derrick Zimmerman (2000-01-02-03).
Lamar Peters racked up 21 points on the strength of a quartet of three-pointers and dished out five assists. The 21-point effort enabled him to surpass Greg Lockhart (1986-87-88-89), Lawrence Roberts (2004-05) and Fred Thomas (2013-14-15-16) into 35th place on MSU’s all-time scoring list.
Robert Woodard II pumped in a career-high 13 points and hauled down seven rebounds. He was 5-of-7 from the field. Tyson Carter, Reggie Perry and Aric Holman registered five points apiece. Perry collected a game-leading 10 rebounds whereas Holman came away with six rebounds and three blocks.
Holman wrapped his career with 1,035 points, 691 rebounds and 198 blocks. The 198 blocks are tied for third, while the 691 rebounds are tied for 13th in the MSU record book.
Abdul Ado chipped in four rebounds and three blocks for the Maroon and White who garnered a 32-22 advantage in paint points and scored 12 of the game’s 19 points on second-chance opportunities.
For the contest, MSU hit 25-of-52 shots from the field (48.1 percent), 8-of-22 shots from three-point range (36.4 percent) and 18-of-23 shots from the foul line (78.3 percent).
Liberty countered with a 24-of-52 mark from the field (46.2 percent), a 12-of-25 mark from three-point range (48.0 percent) and a 20-of-25 mark from the foul line (80.0 percent).
Mississippi State had 11 assists and 12 turnovers, while the Flames had 16 assists and 10 turnovers.
Liberty was fueled by Caleb Homesley (30 points), Lovell Cabbil (18 points, 5 assists) and Myo Baxter-Bell (13 points, 4 assists).
FROM THE BENCH WITH COACH HOWLAND
“Well, obviously a very tough loss for us, especially having a 10-point lead … But give them credit. [Caleb] Homesley played great. He gets 30 points on us. You look at his shooting percentage, he’s 10 for 16, really shot it well from three, 5 for 11. Too many threes, though. The first half when we had the lead, they came back with three’s off of penetration, which is something we expected. Half their shots today were threes but credit them. They were down 10, and they did a good job to fight to come back. We had some opportunities around the rim that we didn’t finish. It’s just a tough, tough pill, tough one to swallow, especially the way we had that lead late in the game.”
“I thought Lamar [Peters] really shot the ball well and was really effective offensively. He got some nice passes from Q [Quinndary Weatherspoon] and did a good job knocking down three. I also was excited to see him finish at the rim … I thought Lamar had a really good game. I want to say that, you know, in terms of Q, he had a phenomenal career. To finish with over 2,000 points in his career at Mississippi State, you know, he improved every year. I’m just so proud of Q and Aric for everything they provided for our team over the last four years and what they did to help this program get back in the NCAA Tournament. Will always be very thankful and really, really appreciative of their efforts and what they’ve done for Mississippi State basketball.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mississippi State led for the majority of the opening 35 minutes of the contest. The Bulldogs fired out to an 8-2 advantage with 15:38 remaining. Quinndary Weatherspoon started the scoring with a driving layup and a dunk in transition courtesy of Lamar Peters. Then, Peters tacked on a trey and split a pair of free throws.
The Flames worked its way back into the game behind the three-pointers. Liberty buried seven of its 12 treys during the opening 20 minutes.
A Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz triple put Liberty ahead 35-31 with 2:00 left. The Bulldogs closed the stanza with six consecutive points to take a 37-35 edge into the locker room. Aric Holman provided a layup followed by a Peters transition trey highlighted the spurt.
All square at 53-53 at the 10:57 mark. Mississippi State made its move. A Reggie Perry offensive rebound resulted in a Peters corner three-pointer. Then, Peters found Tyson Carter for another trey on the delayed fastbreak. After two Weatherspoon free throws, Peters drove through traffic for another layup to bring the tally to 63-53 with 7:18 to go.
Liberty turned to Homesley who scored 14 points down the stretch. A late shot clock trey from the top of the key gave the Flames a 69-67 lead at the 2:34 mark.
Mississippi State would take a 70-69 lead on a pair of free throws from Robert Woodard II with 1:36 left. The Flames answered on the ensuing possession with a Lovell Cabbil triple to take the lead for good.
Liberty converted on nine of its 10 foul side inside the closing 48 seconds to tuck away the four-point decision.