Wichita State senior Samajae Haynes-Jones toyed with an undersized front court defense in the Shockers’ victory on Saturday.
The Shockers held off a comeback from Southern Mississippi in the final minutes of the game. Despite leading by 17 points in the second half, Mississippi State cut the lead down to just two points with three minutes remaining in the game.
Southern Mississippi guard Cortez Edwards slammed a two-handed dunk on two Shocker defenders to cut the deficit to three points. Shocker freshman Erik Stevenson hit his first three-pointer of the game, but Southern Mississippi responded with a three of their own on the next play.
Southern Mississippi failed to rebound, but their quick-trigger offense led them back into the game. WSU’s lead was cut to just a point with two minutes left in the game. Southern Mississippi took its second lead of the game with a two-point basket by Dominic Magee with one minute left in the game.
WSU regained the lead after Ricky Torres tossed an alley-oop to Shocker forward Jaime Echenique. Southern Mississippi had a chance to regain the lead with 40 seconds left in the game.
Off a miss, Shocker freshman Morris Udeze was fouled. After hitting the first of two shots, he missed the second. Stevenson snagged the offensive board and put senior Markis McDuffie to the line for two with 13 seconds left.
McDuffie missed the front end on the first, and out of a timeout, and after hitting the second, Southern Mississippi had a chance to tie the game and force overtime. Southern Mississippi guard Tyree Griffin was fouled by Haynes-Jones on a step-back three that would have beat the buzzer. He would go to the free throw line for three shots that could tie the game.
Griffin hurt his elbow on the shot, and was limited to get off the floor. Unable to shoot the free throws, Gregg Marshall elected for Leonard Harper-Baker to take the three free throws for Southern Mississippi.
Harper-Baker missed the backend of the first free throw. And with that, the game was well out of reach.
WSU held on to win 63-60.
Haynes-Jones crossed from his right hand to his left, then back to his right to go around Southern Mississippi forward Leonard Harper-Baker and finish at the rim. In what had been a tightly contested game, Haynes-Jones split through the defense on two-straight possessions, this time crossing 6-11 forward Tim Rowe. The result was a three-point lead, ignited by a steal from Shocker guard Erik Stevenson.
The Shockers’ defense forced turnovers on only four first-half possessions, but turned those turnovers into points three times.
Haynes-Jones played tight pressure on Southern Mississippi point guard Tyree Griffin, and WSU junior Ricky Torres pickpocketed Griffin for a breakaway dunk capped by Shocker senior Markis McDuffie. The Shockers took their first 10-point lead of the game with 1:06 remaining in the first half.
Haynes-Jones had 10 first-half points on 4-6 shooting, including two three-pointers.
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