Eric Reed Jr. scored 15 points and Dashawn Davis added 12 to pace Mississippi State to a 58-55 victory over Marquette on Monday night in the semifinals of the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament in Florida.
Mississippi State (5-0) advances to Wednesday night’s title game against Utah, which held off Georgia Tech 68-64 in the first semifinal. Marquette (3-2) will face Georgia Tech in the third-place game.
Shakeel Moore scored on a layup to put the Bulldogs up 53-50 and Reed hit the second of two free throws to make it 54-50 with 29 seconds left.
Reed hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining to make it 56-52, but Tyler Kolek answered with a 3-pointer to pull Marquette within 56-55 with three seconds left.
Davis hit two more free throws and Marquette missed a final half-court shot.
Tolu Smith pulled down 16 rebounds to help Mississippi State to a 42-30 advantage on the boards. The Bulldogs had a 15-5 edge in offensive rebounds for a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points. Mississippi State struggled at the free-throw line, though, making just 11 of 21.
Kolek finished with 16 points, making 4 of 6 shots from beyond the arc, and Kam Jones added 14 points.
Marquette, which trailed 23-17 after a cold-shooting first half, went in front 35-33 on a layup by Jones with 11:03 remaining. Davis later hit a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up 51-48 with 2:32 left.
Mississippi State led by just six at the half despite an eight-minute scoreless stretch from Marquette early in the first. Moore’s 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the half at 20-10 with 4:10 remaining.
Neither team shot well in the first half. Marquette was 7 of 23, including 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs were 9 of 27 and 4 of 10 from deep.
–Field Level Media