PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Tyson Walker scored 15 points to lead five scorers in double figures and No. 12 Michigan State pulled out a 78-77 win over Portland on Sunday in the fifth place game of the Phil Knight Invitational.
The Spartans had a 10-0 run early in the second half to erase an eight-point halftime deficit and pushed the lead to 12 with less than four minutes to play when the Pilots made an amazing push and had a chance to win the game.
After outscoring the Spartans 13-2 in the last three minutes and getting eight points in less than 30 seconds to make it 78-77 with 40.5 seconds to play, Portland rebounded a Spartan miss with 8.1 seconds to go. Then the Pilots got the ball inside to Tyler Robertson and his shot rolled off the rim and a desperation putback by Juan Sebastian Gorosito wasn’t close.
Pierre Brooks made all four of his 3-pointers and scored 15 points for the Spartans (5-2). Joey Hauser added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists, A.J. Hoggard had 12 points and nine assists and Mady Sissoko 11 points.
Robertson had 16 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals for the Pilots (5-4). Alden Applewhite was 5-of-7 shooting and also had a career-high 16 points. Kristian Sjolund made 5 of 6 3-pointers for 15 points.
After Robertson made two free throws with 1:10 to play to pull Portland within 78-71. The Spartans threw the ball away and Sjolund hit a 3 from the right wing at 53 seconds. Robertson then stole the inbounds pass and Moses Wood found Sjolund in the right corner 10 seconds later.
Michigan State trailed 42-34 at the half and quickly took the lead with a seven-point possession during the 10-0 run. The Spartans were down nine when Sissoko scored in the lane. After an offensive foul on Portland, Walker drilled a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 46-42.
After stopping the Pilots, Hoggard found Sissoko for an alleyoop dunk and Joey St. Pierre was called for a flagrant foul. Sissoko made the free throw on the foul as well as the two for the flagrant, putting Michigan State up 47-46 at the 17:33 mark.
On the ensuing possession, A.J. Hoggard scored on a driving layup. The Pilots kept it closed until a 11-2 run had the Spartans up 76-64.
The Pilots knocked down nine 3-pointers — Sjolund was 3 for 3 — in the first half to lead 42-34. It’s not as if the Spartans were bad, shooting 48%, including 4 of 6 behind the arc, but it didn’t match up to the Pilots’ long-range marksmanship.
Michigan State limited Portland to four 3s in the second half but three came in the last two minutes. The Pilots were 13 of 29 from distance and 12 of 12 from the foul line while only committing five turnovers.
The Spartans went 8 of 14 behind the arc and shot 52.5% overall.
Portland: Despite missing starting point guard Mike Meadows (groin), the Pilots were impressive and less than cordial as co-hosts of the tournament. They lost to No. 1 North Carolina (89-81) and beat Villanova (83-71) before giving Michigan State all it could handle. It bodes well for year two of the Shante Legans rebuild as the Pilots were 1-42 in West Coast Conference play in the three years before his arrival.
Michigan State: Despite the close score, the Spartans still pulled it out. The Spartans appear ready for the rest of their difficult schedule after beating Oregon and losing to eventual champion and 18th ranked Alabama. Starting forward Malik Hall and key reserve Jaden Akins missed the tournament with injuries.
Portland gets a much needed breather on Wednesday, facing NAIA Multnomah.
Michigan State goes to Notre Dame for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.