ATLANTA — Redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart went off for a career-high 32 points against Dayton, but it wasn’t enough as Mississippi State fell to the Flyers 85-82 in two overtimes in Saturday’s Pit Boss Grills Holiday Hoopsgiving event at State Farm Arena.
The game was a battle throughout and included 19 lead changes and a dozen ties. Dayton finished the final overtime 3-for-3 from the floor and 6-for-9 from the free-throw line. MSU didn’t get to the line at all in the final five minutes.
Stewart finished 13-for-22 shooting, including three triples. Sophomore guard Iverson Molinar and redshirt sophomore forward Tolu Smith added 20 and 13 points, respectively. Molinar also dished out seven assists.
As a team, MSU shot 34-for-75 (45.3%). State shot just 5-for-17 (29.4%) from 3-point range and 9-for-22 from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs owned a 33-32 rebounding edge, which included 16 offensive rebounds.
Dayton senior guard Jalen Crutcher scored 23 points, making four of six free throws in the last 15 seconds. Redshirt senior guard Ibi Watson added 21 points and made clutch 3-pointers throughout both overtimes.
The Flyers shot 29-for-55 (52.7%) from the field, including 8-for-22 (36.4%) from beyond the arch. They also made 19 of 26 (73.1%) free throws.
The first half was back and forth until the Bulldogs went on a 13-3 run to give MSU a 27-19 lead with 4:35 left in half. Dayton cut the deficit to four at 27-23, but MSU went back up eight, The Bulldogs led 33-25 at the halftime break.
A 9-0 spurt for Dayton to start the second half gave the Flyers a 34-33 lead, but MSU took the lead right back at 35-34 with 16:24 to play.
Dayton then used an 8-0 run to go up 46-44 with 8:01 left. a 3-pointer by Watson increased the Dayton lead to six points at 59-53 with 3:11 left. Then down 62-59, Stewart hit a triple to tie things up with 1:05 to play.
Molinar went coast-to-coast for a jump shot that forced the first overtime at 64-all, and Dayton freshman R.J. Blakney hit a 3-pointer, his first points and just his second shot of the game, to force the second overtime at 72-72.
The Flyers tied the game at 78-78 on a 3-pointer by Watson with 2:47 to play. A Dayton free throw then broke that tie. A jumper by Watson then made it 81-78. A pair of free throws by Crutcher made it 83-78.
Molinar then made it 84-82. Dayton made a free throw to go up by three, giving MSU one last chance, but Molinar missed a desperation 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
The Bulldogs will be back in action Wednesday when they host Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. CT.