Michigan State was able to squeak past Loyola 63-61 in the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas thanks to the last-second heroics from the senior center.
FINAL: MSU 63, Loyola 61: Spartans win on last-second alley-oop to Marcus Bingham Jr.
Despite committing season-high 20 turnovers, Michigan State found a way to win thanks to the last-second dunk and strong performances from the front court.
MSU was led by its starting frontcourt in Bingham and junior forward Malik Hall. The big men led the Spartans on both ends of the floor to guide MSU to its fourth win of the year.
Bingham had his best game in a Spartan uniform, serving as the defensive anchor for the Spartans once again. On top of the game-winner, Bingham finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.
Offensively, Hall led the way with a career performance. He finished with a career-high 24 points and seven rebounds—and did not miss a shot from the field, going 9-9 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line.
The Spartans needed a second-half comeback, topped off with the game-winner, after falling behind to Loyola in the first half due to the nonstop stream of turnovers. The Spartans jumped out to an early lead but could not hold onto the ball and trailed going into the second half.
Loyola, one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation averaging 91 points per game, was held scoreless by Michigan State for the first six and a half minutes of the game.
On the first three possessions of the game for the Ramblers, they were denied emphatically by Bingham at the rim. He started the game with three blocks in the first two minutes of the game, paving the way for a 9-0 Spartan run to start the game.
MSU could not keep Loyola’s offense down forever, though. After starting the game 0-7 from the field, the Ramblers made seven of its next 13 shots to cut MSU’s lead to two just over halfway through the first half.
The painful stretches of empty offensive possessions returned for the Spartans, allowing Loyola to quickly make up the early nine-point deficit. After the first six minutes, Loyola outscored the Spartans 20 to 12 over the next 10 minutes of the half to take a one-point lead.
The struggle for MSU continued for the rest of the half resulting in a five-point Rambler lead. Loyola outscored Michigan State 28-14 over the final 14 minutes of the first half.
The struggles were fueled by MSU’s inability to hold on to the basketball. The Spartans turned the ball over 14 times in the first half, including nine on 10 possessions over a five minute period. The Spartans turned it over on 36.8% of its first-half possessions, making it impossible to find success offensively.
Michigan State could not hold onto the ball or make a pass to another Spartan for a considerable stretch of the first half, resulting in a 16-2 Loyola run.
Michigan State came out in the second half shooting itself in the foot. Senior forward Gabe Brown, who only played four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, picked up his third foul instantly. Then, Bingham was stripped for MSU’s 15th turnover of the game, resulting in an easy Loyola layup to extend its lead.
Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo elected to keep Brown in the game despite being in foul trouble. That decision paid off for the Spartans over the next five minutes. MSU went on a 13-4 run to regain a 39-38 lead, which included three straight threes from Brown.
Brown ended up picking up his fourth foul with 13 minutes left towards the end of the run, but Hall was ready to pick up where his senior captain left off. Hall scored five straight points for the Spartans after Brown left the floor to maintain MSU’s one-point lead.
The 30-second offensive takeover from Hall was just one positive stretch of one of his best games of his career.
Hall fearlessly attacked the rim time and time again in the second half, scoring 16 of his 24 points in the final 20 minutes to help lead the Spartans to victory.
His offensive outburst helped MSU keep a narrow lead for most of the second half. After regaining the lead with just under 12 minutes remaining, MSU maintained a one to three point lead for the next eight minutes of the half, thanks in large part to Hall’s offensive contributions.
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The Spartans were unable to get enough stops to capitalize on shooting 56% from the field in the second half. Loyola traded baskets with the Spartans until the end and managed to tie the game with two minutes left.
The game remained tied going into the final possession, where MSU was able to seal the deal with the beautiful pass from Walker to Bingham.
The Spartans will continue its tournament run tomorrow against the winner of the Connecticut-Auburn game. MSU’s game will tip off at noon on Thanksgiving.