Mississippi State's bench celebrates after former Dougherty star Brian Bryant scored the game-winning basket against South Carolina on Wednesday.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After five straight losses, two of them in overtime and two of them to among the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference, Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury just wanted a little bit of good luck.
His wishes were answered as former Dougherty star and two-time Albany Herald Willie Boston Player of the Year Brian Bryant took an inbounds pass from Dee Bost and made a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 69-67 overtime win Wednesday night over South Carolina.
“We needed something good to happen to us. We’ve been in this situation two or three different times in this little losing streak we’ve had. Basketball gods were looking after us late in that game,” Stansbury said.
The winning play didn’t go as planned. With 1.7 seconds left, Bost was supposed to lob the ball to Arnett Moultrie.
“When I set the back screen, both the defenders kind of went with Arnett and I just fell to the ball. I knew we had to get a shot up,” Bryant said.
It fell through as the red lights lit up on the backboard. It was Bryant’s 16th point and Bost’s 11th assist.
The Bulldogs needed this win desperately. They started the month ranked 20th in the country, but five straight losses, including to four-SEC-win Georgia and Auburn, had them on the edge of the NCAA tournament. A loss to the SEC’s worst team likely would demolish any chance of an at-large bid, likely leaving Mississippi State out of the tournament for a fourth straight season.
And the team appeared to be sniping at each other. Moultrie, Mississippi State’s leading scorer and rebounder, suggested the team was full of selfish players. When asked if they could bounce back from the losing streak, he said they probably couldn’t.
After the game, Stansbury didn’t let his players answer a question about if Wednesday’s victory could bring the team back together.
“There never was no separation in the locker room. If someone says everybody’s not working as hard as they should, that’s not separation. I think that was positive,” Stansbury said.
With the loss, South Carolina (10-19, 2-13) is guaranteed to finish last in the SEC for the second time in six seasons. The Gamecocks have lost 24 of their last 28 league games.
“Obviously I don’t have a word to articulate how that one makes you feel,” said coach Darrin Horn, who is now 60-61 in four seasons with South Carolina, with his teams winning fewer SEC games in each year.
Bruce Ellington led the Gamecocks with 17 points, but his high-arching short jumper to win the game at the end of regulation was just short. Damontre Harris added 14 points and had 11 rebounds, while senior Malik Cooke added 11 points in his final home game.
Bost added 13 points and Moultrie had 12 rebounds, while Renaldo Sidney added 12 points and 14 rebounds for Mississippi State.
Bost had a key 3-pointer in overtime after Ellington buried a 3 of his own to give the Gamecocks the only lead they would have in the extra period. Mississippi State twice took the lead, but South Carolina answered. Anthony Gill’s putback with 13 seconds to go tied it at 67 in overtime.
As the clock wound down in overtime, Ellington stripped Bost, but his foot was out of bounds, setting up Bryant’s winning shot with 1.7 seconds to go.
“We were supposed to switch everything and make it tough for him. But I guess he got freed up, kind of — miscommunication or something — and he made a good play,” Cooke said.
It’s been a frustrating season for South Carolina. Average paid attendance is down about 1,500 fans with most games seeing less than half of the announced number of fans. Athletic director Eric Hyman has expressed support for Horn, who has a buyout of over $2 million, during the season, but also said he will evaluate the coach as he always does after the season is over.
If South Carolina loses to Georgia on Saturday, it will end the season with the fewest SEC wins since joining the league 20 years ago. The next loss will also give the Gamecocks only their four 20-loss season in 104 years of basketball.
On the other sideline, there was relief. The Bulldogs massed in a group hug after Bryant’s shot went in. Stansbury smiled in relief, walked over to the TV crew announcing the game and told them nothing seems to come easy for his team.
“We had to find a way tonight just to get a win, get back on the winning side of the column,” Stansbury said. “Our guys have been fighting. We’ve had some misfortunes in a couple of games.”
Boston College holds off Georgia Tech 56-52
BOSTON — It’s been a season of long stretches of ineffectiveness for Boston College. The difference on Wednesday night was the Eagles didn’t play nearly as bad as Georgia Tech did.
Matt Humphrey scored 13 points, Ryan Anderson had 10, and Boston College held off Georgia Tech despite nearly blowing a 17-point lead, beating the Yellow Jackets 56-52 for just its second win in 12 games.
“I think what you saw was a microcosm of what we went through the entire season,” Boston College coach Steve Donahue said. “Once again, they get the lead, these young kids get flustered and the lead goes out the window.”
But things turned out differently for the young Eagles, who posted their first win since upsetting then-No. 15 Florida State on Feb. 8.
Boston College started three freshmen and had four play 34 minutes or more.
“I think hopefully we’ll look back in a few years and say we learned from all this grinding out,” Donahue said.
Boston College (9-20, 4-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) climbed out of the conference cellar with the win and avoided matching a school record for losses. The Eagles went 6-21 in 1998-99.
Daniel Miller paced Georgia Tech (10-19, 3-12) with 13 points and Kammeon Holsey had 12, with each grabbing seven boards. The Yellow Jackets have lost 11 of their past 12.
“It was not our offense,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “Our defense was atrocious. They hit too many 3s. You can’t do that against Boston College.”
All four of Boston College’s league wins have come at home.
Georgia Tech, which trailed 51-34 with just more than 11 minutes to play, cut the deficit to 54-52 with 2:21 left and had possession twice late but missed open jumpers. Jason Morris missed and the ball bounced out of bounds after a scramble, giving the Eagles possession with 32.3 seconds left.
Lonnie Jackson was fouled with 27 seconds left and hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to move Boston College ahead by four.
As it did for most of the game, Georgia Tech missed a handful of shots in the closing seconds. The Yellow Jackets shot just 38 percent (23 of 61) and failed on 14 of 18 from behind the 3-point line.
“I can live with missing shots,” Gregory said. “We have to live on the defensive end and we just didn’t do that today.”
The Eagles, who entered with the conference’s worst shooting percentage from the field, hit 42.2 percent (19 of 45), but nailed 10 of 24 on 3-point attempts.
Boston College, which had opened a 14-point advantage, led by 11 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets looked energized at the start of the second half, scoring the initial seven points to close it to 33-29 on Morris’ 3-point play. Many of the players on Georgia Tech’s bench jumped up when Morris scored, easily being heard in a fairly empty arena. A snowstorm that hit the area late in the afternoon kept the crowd smaller than usual.
Donahue called time out and his team responded.
After the teams traded baskets, the Eagles scored the next nine points, extending the lead to 45-31 on Jordan Daniels’ 3-pointer from the top of the key.
John Cahill later hit a 3-pointer directly in front of the media table, was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to give the Eagles a 49-34 advantage with 11:35 to play. Clifford followed with a layup on the next possessions, giving Boston College its biggest lead of the game with just more than 11 minutes left.
The Yellow Jackets made a quick run, closing it to 51-41 on Nick Foreman’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 9:23 to go. The Eagles called time out again, but Georgia Tech scored the next six points, narrowing the gap to four on Holsey’s put-back with just less than 6 minutes left.
Daniels answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing, but Foreman hit a trey and Holsey had a put-back to cut the deficit to 54-52 with 2:21 left.
In a matchup of the conference’s two lowest-scoring teams, neither looked sharp offensively at the start. Both missed a number of jumpers and the teams were tied three times in the opening 7½ minutes before the Eagles scored 14 straight points, pulling to a 28-14 lead on Anderson’s dunk with 6 minutes left.
Georgia Tech, the ACC’s worst 3-point shooting team, hit only 1 of 7 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets beat Boston College in the schools’ first meeting this season, 51-47 in Atlanta on Feb. 4.
The Eagles hit 50 percent of their shots in the first half (12 of 24) and were 5 of 11 on 3-point attempts, taking advantage of what appeared to be, at times, lackadaisical defense by Georgia Tech.