San Diego St. 74, Missouri St. 70
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP)—Brandon Heath had 26 points, including a 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds remaining to break a tie and lead San Diego State to a 74-70 win over Missouri State in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night.
Mohamed Abukar added 15 points for San Diego State (22-10) and Jerome Habel had 11. The Aztecs’ first postseason win outside of San Diego since 1957 earned them a second-round game at Syracuse on Monday.
Deven Mitchell led Missouri State (22-11) with 16 points, and Drew Richards and Blake Ahearn had 15 apiece.
San Diego State led 34-29 at halftime and went up 44-36 with 15:11 left on a basket by Heath.
Missouri State then went on an 11-1 run, taking its first lead since the first half at 47-45 on Ahearn’s 3 with 12:53 left.
Missouri State pushed its lead to 60-54 on a basket by Nathan Bilyeu with 7:21 left, but the Bears scored just two points over the next 3:20 and San Diego scored 13 to lead 67-62 with 4:01 left.
Back-to-back turnovers by San Diego and six straight free throws by Missouri State, including two by Mitchell , tied the game at 70 with 41.7 seconds left and set the stage for Heath’s basket.
A free throw by Jer’Vaughn Johnson finished the scoring.
San Diego shot 52 percent from the field (27-for-52) including 58 percent in the second half (14-for-24).
Missouri State shot 38 percent from the field (22-for-58) and 48 percent in the second half (12-for-25).