LIBERTY 84, MISSISSIPPI STATE 73
MELBOURNE, FL. — Superior shooting from 3-point range kept Liberty in the mix Thursday, with the Flames draining a program-record 19 shots from long range in their victory over Mississippi State in the third place game of the 2020 Space Coast Challenge.
Liberty (1-1) got 23 points from Darius McGhee (who was 7-for-11 from 3-point range) and 17 points from Elijah Cuffee, while the team had just seven turnovers on the night.
The Flames had a 13-1 run in the first four minutes of the second half. Three-pointers from McGhee and Micaiah Abii right out of the gate pushed Liberty up, 46-40; Cuffee drained another long 3 to make it 49-42 with 17:44 to go.
MSU got back within six points, 65-58, on a jumper and ensuing free throw from Abdul Ado at 7:01, but Liberty got some breathing room on a 3-pointer from Chris Parker, making the score 74-66 with 4:12 remaining.
The Bulldogs were led by D.J. Stewart Jr., who tied his career high with 20 points, and Tolu Smith, who had a career-high 20 points as well to go with seven rebounds. Ado added 14 points. Mississippi State was 15-of-19 from the free throw line, a night after shooting just 8-for-27.
Liberty hits its first five shots of the game, all 3-pointers, but Mississippi State stayed in touch, with a jumper from Stewart making it 15-15 at the 14:39 mark. MSU (0-2) took the lead at 29-28 on a steal and layup from Deivon Smith, but McGhee answered with a 3-pointer to make it 31-29 for Liberty with 5:35 remaining.
Keegan McDowell’s 3-pointer, the ninth of the half for the Flames, pushed them up 40-39 with 36 seconds to go, and the Bulldogs took the lead into the break on a jumper from Tolu Smith at the :04 mark, 41-40. Mississippi State scored just 42 points in all of Wednesday’s game against Clemson.