GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP)—Junior guard Travis Jones came off the bench to score 17 points and South Carolina State rallied from seven points down in the final two minutes to beat Marshall 71-66 to start the Jack In The Box Holiday Classic on Thursday night.
William Sago added 16 points for the Bulldogs (3-6), including the go-ahead free throws with 39 seconds left. Brian Mason had 14 points and 14 rebounds for South Carolina State.
Senior forward Mark Patton scored a carer-high 28 for the Thundering Herd (4-5), which seemed in control with a 66-59 lead on Chris Ross’ layup with 2:07 remaining.
But the Bulldogs closed by scoring the game’s final 12 points. The comeback started with Mason’s 3-pointer with 1:38 to go. Jones followed with a layup and a free throw prior to Sago’s game-winning foul shots.
A brief tussle at the end ruined Marshall’s chance at getting back in it.
Travis Aikens’ try at a tying 3-pointer was blocked by Mason with 7 seconds left. Jones wound up with the ball for the Bulldogs and is fouled by Aikens, which touches off some angry moments between the teams and leads to technicals fouls against Marshall’s Patton and South Carolina State’s Mason.
Aikens is ejected.
Patton hit three of four 3-pointers against South Carolina State after coming into the game just 2 of 11 from behind the arc this season.
South Carolina State will face Furman or Kennessaw State in the tournament championship Friday night.