Mich. St. holds off FGCU, 78-77

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - News ser­vices Wash­ing­ton Post

Eron Har­ris had 31 points and host No. 13 Michi­gan State held off Florida Gulf Coast, 78-77, on Sun­day when a time­keep­ing er­ror led to a dis­puted fin­ish.

With 1.6 sec­onds re­main­ing, Florida Gulf Coast threw a long in­bounds pass from un­der­neath its bas­ket. But the clock in­cor­rectly started when the pass was thrown, rather than when An­travi­ous Sim­mons caught the ball by the foul line at the other end of the court.

So as Sim­mons turned to try a game-win­ning shot, the buzzer sounded — much too early. Sim­mons missed his at­tempt, but FGCU play­ers looked con­fused and coach Joe Doo­ley sought an ex­pla­na­tion.

Of­fi­cials went to a video re­view as play­ers and fans waited to find out if the game was over. Fol­low­ing the de­lay, the play stood and Michi­gan State es­caped.

Har­ris made six 3-point­ers and Miles Bridges added 13 points for the Spar­tans (2-2), who shot a sea­son-best 51 per­cent from the field. They hit 52.9 per­cent of their at­tempts from be­yond the 3point line, but strug­gled at the free-throw line (57.6 per­cent).

Florida Gulf Coast (1-3) got 18 points apiece from Bran­don Good­win and Sim­mons, who added 12 re­bounds. RaySean Scott Jr. scored 14. Duke tops Rhode Is­land: Luke Ken­nard scored 24 points and top-ranked Duke beat No. 21 Rhode Is­land, 75-65, in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off ti­tle game in Un­casville, Conn.

The sopho­more guard made eight of his 11 shots from the floor, in­clud­ing four of five from 3-point range for the Blue Devils (4-1). Amile Jef­fer­son added 17 points and 15 re­bounds.

Jared Ter­rell led Rhode Is­land (4-1) with 22 points, and Martin Has­san added 15. Duke held Rams star E.C. Matthews to nine points, more than 10 be­low his sea­son av­er­age. Ken­tucky bol­sters back­court: Five-star point guard Quade Green com­mit­ted to Ken­tucky.

Green chose the Wild­cats over Syra­cuse, al­though Vil­lanova, Tem­ple and Duke were also on his fi­nal list of five schools.

Green, from Neu­man­nGoretti (Pa.) High, is ranked No. 22 in the ESPN 100 for 2017.

Cen­ter Nick­las Back­strom of­fered an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally blunt take in front of his locker, still fum­ing over the high-stick­ing penalty that ul­ti­mately dealt the Cap­i­tals a 3-2 de­feat against the Blue Jack­ets on Sun­day.

Back­strom had been baf­fled by the call as soon as the whis­tle blew, and he grew even more sour once it led to for­ward Alexan­der Wennberg’s game-win­ner on the en­su­ing power play with 53.6 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion.

While chas­ing the puck with less than two min­utes left in the third pe­riod, Back­strom reached out with his stick in front of Colum­bus cap­tain Nick Foligno’s face. Foligno snapped his head back.

“I didn’t touch him,” Back­strom said. “It was re­ally weird I got a penalty there.”

Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz deemed Foligno’s ac­tions “a lit­tle bit dis­re­spect­ful to the game” and called on the NHL to is­sue some form of dis­ci­pline for div­ing.

“The league will look at that and we have fines for that,” Trotz said. “I wouldn’t be too happy if I was the ref­eree.”

That was where the game might have hinged. With the two of­fenses hurt­ing for good shots — Mary­land shot 35.3 per­cent over­all; Tow­son, 36.5 per­cent — Tigers coach Pat Sk­erry pointed to the free-throw line. The Terps at­tempted nine more — and made 11 more — free throws than did Tow­son.

“We came in here, to be per­fectly hon­est, ex­pect­ing to win,” Sk­erry said. “We played hard. We just didn’t make enough plays.”

The first half wasn’t pretty. There were so many early fouls — both teams were in the bonus by the 10-minute mark — and aw­ful-look­ing 3-point­ers that the sound­track for the game seemed to be al­ter­nat­ing tracks of whis­tles and chants of “Air ball!”

With­out re­serve cen­ter Michal Cekovsky (sprained foot) and guard Dion Wi­ley (stom­ach virus), Mary­land was no­tice­ably short-handed at times. At one point in the first half, the Terps hadthree point guards on the court: Trim­ble, Cowan and Jaylen Brant­ley. Av­er­age height: about 6 feet 1.

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