By David Brandt/The Associated Press
STARKVILLE — Chaz Williams scored 28 points, Sean Carter added 20 and Massachusetts outlasted Mississippi State 101-96 in double-overtime Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
UMass (23-11) won the marathon game by outscoring MSU 11-6 in the second overtime. Williams shot 11 of 20 from the field, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
“Coach just preached the will to win and that’s what I think our guys have as a collective group,” Williams said. “We just want to win. We’re tired of losing. We don’t want to go home yet and we did everything within our ability to make sure we didn’t go home.”
Williams, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, briefly went down with a left knee injury, crashing hard to the floor and writhing in pain. But he never came off the court, providing several clutch moments down the stretch while playing 47 minutes.
“He means so much to the team that it’s difficult for me to take him out of the game,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “He’s good and he’s tough.”
Javorn Farrell scored 16 points off the bench. Raphiael Putney added 10 points and 16 rebounds.
UMass had a 72-68 lead with 2:48 remaining in regulation, but MSU’s Arnett Moultrie hit a turnaround shot and later sank two free throws with 41.1 seconds left to tie it at 72. The Bulldogs had a chance to win in regulation but Dee Bost’s 12-foot runner in traffic missed as time expired.
“Every time we threw a jab, MSU came back with one of their own,” Kellogg said. “.. I think we forced them to play smaller than they are accustomed to with our press. We were fortunate to come away with a win.”
Mississippi State (21-12) finished a brutal final month of the season, losing seven of nine games despite having two first-team All-Southeastern Conference players in Bost and Moultrie.
Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points on 12 of 23 shooting from the field. Bost added 20 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
Mississippi State never led until Brian Bryant’s steal and layup on gave the Bulldogs a 63-62 advantage with 8:05 remaining. Bost said “nobody wanted to play” early because of the disappointment of being left out of the NCAA tournament, but the players slowly came around during the second half and overtimes.
Jalen Steele scored 17 points off the bench and Brian Bryant added 12.
“Those guys on the floor were competing,” Stansbury said. “That’s all I ask.”
Read more in Wednesday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.