Quinndary Weatherspoon had 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and two blocked shots Sunday to help lead the Mississippi State men’s basketball team to a 61-59 victory against Dayton. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
December 4, 2017 10:37:37 AM
STARKVILLE -- The basketball hit the floor in front of Quinndary Weatherspoon with a Dayton Flyer in pursuit and five seconds remaining.
Weatherspoon had every reason to let the ball go and let the final possession play out because he had been called for his fourth foul a few minutes earlier for pressuring the ball.
This wasn't the time for hesitation.
"It was the end of the game, so I was going to go all out with it," he said.
The gamble paid off.
Weatherspoon grabbed that loose ball and charged up the sideline in front of the benches, absorbed contact from a defender, and made a layup with 0.8 seconds left to lift the Mississippi State men's basketball team to a 61-59 victory at Humphrey Coliseum.
As soon as Weatherspoon collected the ball, even with two defenders ahead of him, MSU coach Ben Howland had only one thing on his mind.
"Go all the way, baby," Howland said.
Weatherspoon was thinking the same thing, but he didn't look like a person operating with seconds to go. When Weatherspoon gained possession, he had a clear path to the basket, but he didn't have clean footing. After Weatherspoon gathered himself, one defender filled the center of the lane and a second rushed into his inside shoulder.
Weatherspoon set up the first defender with a baseline move, got the leverage needed, and elevated for a layup. A calm of that level is easy to achieve when one isn't thinking about the clock.
"It feels normal, like there's 20 minutes on the clock," he said. "I just wanted to get a shot up. I didn't want to settle for a 3. I just wanted to get one up before the time ran out."
The play would have never happened without MSU freshman guard Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary's brother.
Dayton's first shot at breaking the 59-59 tie came with 49 seconds remaining. A few passes, screens, and cuts created a pick-and-roll defended by MSU's Abdul Ado and Aric Holman -- the only two forwards on the floor. With that size otherwise deployed, Dayton grabbed the offensive rebound with 26 seconds left. Nick Weatherspoon then met Darrell Davis, one of Dayton's best scorers, on the perimeter. Davis drove to his left just but Weatherspoon popped the ball free for Quinndary to collect it.
"It's a blur. I don't even remember it. I'm going to have to go watch it," Howland said. "I do remember the ball going in, though."
MSU will have plenty of time to revel in its heroics and diagnose it all. MSU, which is in final exams, won't play again until Saturday against Division II North Georgia. The Bulldogs will use that time to analyze why they needed the game-winning layup.
MSU (7-0) extended a 15-point halftime lead to 21 in the opening minutes of the second half, but it had to fight through two ties in the final three minutes. The Flyers (3-4) used their zone defense to limit the Bulldogs to 3-for-11 shooting. MSU had two three-minute scoreless stretches in that span.
"The zone reacts to the ball, and you have to set up your pass with pass fakes," Howland said. "It's easy to say, but we have to get more reps at it by working at it in practice. You can see we'll be working on some zone offense in the next few days."
Starkville native and sophomore guard Tyson Carter, who had a game-high 20 points, agreed: "We should've done a better job of attacking the zone through the high post."
The break will be critical for MSU, which just completed a stretch of six games in 16 days. Fatigue might have played a role in the second-half struggles and 24 turnovers.
"It's very rare you're going to win a game taking seven foul shots and turning the ball over 24 times," Howland said. "This was a real nice win considering."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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