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Stewart’s last-second 3 sends Mississippi State to NIT semifinals

Bulldogs improve to 17-14.

Mississippi State Athletics

DENTON, Texas — Trailing 67-65, redshirt sophomore guard D.J. Stewart Jr. drained a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left to give the fourth-seeded Mississippi State men’s basketball team a 68-67 win over second-seeded Richmond on Thursday night in the NIT quarterfinals at the University of North Texas Coliseum.

MSU (17-14, 8-10 SEC) advances to play Louisiana Tech (23-7, 12-4 C-USA) in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT at Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas. The game will air on ESPN.

Stewart led the Bulldogs with 22 points and five assists. He made all 10 of his free throws and two of his five 3-point shots. Sophomore guard Iverson Molinar added 18 points and seven rebounds, while redshirt senior forward Abdul Ado finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.

As a team, MSU shot 23-for-46 (50.0%), including 6-for-17 (35.3%) from 3-point range. The Bulldogs also made 16 of their 18 free throws with the only misses coming from Ado in the closing seconds.

The Spiders (14-9, 6-5 A10) shot 22-for-53 (41.5%) from the field and 9-for-23 (39.1%) on 3-pointers.

Richmond, which was without its top two leading scorers in graduate student guard Blake Francis and graduate student forward Grant Golden, was led by senior guard Jacob Gilyard with 22 points, six assists and four steals. Junior forward Matt Grace finished with 16 points.

A Gilyard 3-pointer gave the Spiders a 9-4 lead with 16:11 left in the first half before an Ado layup gave the Bulldogs a 10-9 lead with 13:14 left.

Richmond was able to go ahead by seven at 21-14 before sophomore forward Quinten Post made a layup and free throw and Molinar finished a dunk to draw within two at 27-25.

The squads went into the halftime break knotted up at 34-34.

The second half was back and forth with neither team able to go ahead by more than five points.

Trailing 67-65 late in the game, Ado missed two free throws with 16 seconds left. He then fouled out to send junior guard Andre Gustavson to the free-throw line with 8.7 seconds left.

Gustavson missed his free throw to set up Stewart’s game-winning 3-pointer. Richmond was not able to get a shot off before the buzzer as Stewart secured the inbound pass near midcourt to give the Bulldogs the win.