FRISCO, Texas — Redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. scored 20 points, sophomore guard Iverson Molinar added 19 and Mississippi State defeated Saint Louis 74-68 on Saturday at Comerica Center to advance to the NIT quarterfinals on Thursday against Richmond.
MSU improves to 16-14 (8-10 SEC), while Saint Louis ends its season at 14-7 (6-4 A10).
The Bulldogs shot 25-for-50 (50.0%) from the field, including 6-for-13 (46.2%) from 3-point range. They made 18-for-23 (78.3%) from the free-throw line.
The Billikens attempted 14 more shots than MSU and finished 27-for-64 (42.2%) from the floor, including 6-for-22 (27.3%) on 3-pointers. The Bulldogs outscored the Billikens 18-8 on free throws.
Senior guard Javonte Perkins led Saint Louis with 21 points. Senior forward Hasahn French added 17 points and 10 rebounds, while senior guard Jordan Goodwin and sophomore forward Terrence Hargrove Jr. added 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Saint Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead before MSU tied things up with a triple from freshman forward Derek Fountain and a jumper by Molinar.
The Bulldogs used a 9-0 spurt to go up 22-14 with 10 minutes left to play in the first half. MSU led by seven at 33-26 at the halftime break.
The Billikens drew within a point at 44-43 with 15:06 to play before taking a 49-48 lead with 12:22 left.
Molinar hit four free throws in less than a minute and Fountain finished a dunk to put the Bulldogs up 66-59 with 4:39 to play, but Saint Louis capitalized off multiple MSU turnovers to cut the deficit to 71-68 with 2:21 left.
Stewart made three of his four free throws in the final 39 seconds to secure the 74-68 win.
The Bulldogs will be back in action Thursday against Richmond (14-8) in the quarterfinals round at the University of North Texas Coliseum in Denton, Texas. Tip time is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT and will air on ESPN2.