December 1, 2018 11:32:15 PM
DAYTON, Ohio -- Mississippi State men's basketball coach Ben Howland extended his hand to Dayton's Anthony Grant and borrowed a line from the end of the first "Rocky" movie -- no, he doesn't want a rematch.
That's how the night went for the No. 25 Bulldogs.
Nick Weatherspoon hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes, and MSU trailed most of the game before rallying to a 65-58 victory against Dayton on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (6-1) salvaged their first true road game by hitting late 3-pointers after missing 15 of their first 19 tries from behind the arc. Weatherspoon hit a 3-pointer that tied it and another trey from the corner with 27 seconds left put the Bulldogs up 61-55. He finished with 14 points.
Howland knew the Bulldogs would have a tough time at UD Arena. After two close victories against the Flyers the last two seasons, he told his counterpart during the post-game handshake that he'd had enough.
"I was really questioning what I was thinking by scheduling Dayton," he said. "I told him when I shook his hand that we're not playing them anymore."
Last season, the Bulldogs needed a steal and layup by Quinndary Weatherspoon with four seconds left to pull out a 61-59 victory against the Flyers in Starkville. On Friday, the senior guard led MSU with 21 points and 12 rebounds, two shy of his career high. His layup off an inbound pass with 13 seconds left clinched it.
The Bulldogs returned the top six scorers from last year's team, and their experience in close games is beneficial.
"We've got a lot of guys who have played together the last two or three years," Quinndary Weatherspoon said. "I think it showed the last few minutes of the game."
Ryan Mikesell scored 15 points for Dayton (4-3), which was coming off losses to Virginia (66-59) and Oklahoma (65-54).
Dayton led by as many as 10 in the first half by taking advantage of the Bulldogs' cold shooting. Reggie Perry made a 3-pointer and a jumper as MSU cut the deficit to 29-26 at halftime.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had a 3-pointer and a layup during a nine-point run that gave MSU a 35-31 lead early in the second half, but the Flyers rallied behind Mikesell to take a seven-point lead before the Bulldog's final comeback.
"Their stamina, their will won out," Grant said. "I thought their energy in the second half told the story of the game. They came out and were the more aggressive team to start the half, and they finished strong."
MSU was coming off its top offensive showing. They shot a season-high 61 percent and had a season-best 24 assists in an 88-65 victory against Alcorn State. It didn't carry over -- the Bulldogs missed 12 of their first 17 shots as Dayton pulled ahead by nine points.
Abdul Ado returned to the starting lineup to add 10 points and four rebounds after missing the last two games due to injury.
Lamar Peters had a season-high eight assists to go with five points and five rebounds.
MSU will play host to McNeese at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Humphrey Coliseum. The game will be streamed online only by SEC Network + courtesy of the WatchESPN app.
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