CONWAY, S.C. — A first half surge by No. 17 Villanova proved to be too much for Mississippi State as the Bulldogs fell 83-76 during Friday’s Myrtle Beach Invitational semifinal game at the HTC Center.
The Wildcats improved to 4-1 on the season, while the Bulldogs drop to 5-1.
Senior guard Tyson Carter led the Bulldog charge with a team-high 22 points for the third 20-plus point game of the season. He shot 7-of-19 in the game. He scored 18 of his 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting during the second half. Sophomore forward Reggie Perry finished with his third double-double of the season as he tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Robert Woodard II chipped in with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The trio of Carter, Perry and Woodard II combined for 57 of the team’s 76 total points.
As a team, the Bulldogs made 28-of-67 shots from the field (41.8%) and 8-of-22 shots from 3-point range (36.4%).
Villanova was 31-of-53 shooting (58.5%), which included 10-of-24 on 3-point attempts (41.7%). The Wildcats held a 34-32 rebounding advantage and forced the Bulldogs into a season-low seven turnovers,
The Bulldogs managed to control the game for the opening 10 minutes. A dunk from Woodard II in transition followed by a Perry layup put the Bulldogs up 22-18 with 10:01 remaining in the opening half.
Villanova then forced State into seven consecutive misses en route to a 16-0 run to take a 34-22 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs would respond with a 6-0 run to make it 34-28. A 3-pointer from freshman guard D.J. Stewart Jr. then cut the deficit down to 35-31 with 1:25 to go.
After two made free throws from Carter made it 39-33 with 2.2 seconds left, Villanova manged to run a successful full-court out-of-bounds play as junior guard Collin Gillespie drained a 3-pointer to stretch the advantage to 42-33 at halftime.
The Bulldogs used a 17-7 run over 5:13 to start the second half to draw within one point at 51-50 with 13:52 left in the game.
The Wildcats then scored 15 of the next 22 points to stretch their lead back out to nine at 62-53 with 9:53 to go. Villanova would then up its lead back double digits at 71-61, with 5:48 to go after a layup.
State managed to cut the deficit to three points at 77-74 in the final minutes after a jumper by Carter, but clutch free throws ended the Bulldog comeback as Villanova held on to win 83-76.
Villanova advances to Sunday’s championship game against Baylor, while Mississippi State will conclude the Myrtle Beach Invitational with a game against Coastal Carolina to decide third place in the eight-team field on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPNews.