Ole Miss Season Ends In NIT Semis To Dayton
NEW YORK (AP) -- Ole Miss trimmed a nine-point, second-half deficit to one in the final minute, but the Rebels could not complete the comeback in a 68-63 loss to Dayton Tuesday in the NIT Semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Dayton's Chris Johnson scored 22 points, including five key free throws down the stretch. Marcus Johnson added 12 points for the Flyers (24-12), who slowed Ole Miss' high-scoring offense and advanced to the championship game for the first time since winning their second NIT title in 1968.
Terrico White had 19 points for the Rebels (24-11), eliminated in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden for the second time in three years. Ole Miss was beaten by eventual champion Ohio State in 2008.
"The game was swinging our way with defense and turnovers and stuff like that. We just didn't really make the plays to win," White said.
With New York Giants quarterback and former Ole Miss star Eli Manning sitting in the second row, near the Rebels' bench, Ole Miss' Murphy Holloway had a chance to tie it at 64 with 35.8 seconds left. But he missed the second of two free throws, and the Rebels never scored again.
London Warren hit one of two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining, extending Dayton's lead to two. Trevor Gaskins drove through the lane for Ole Miss but came up short on a twisting layup, and the Flyers grabbed the rebound.
Chris Johnson's two free throws made it 67-63 with 11.2 seconds to play. On the other end, London Warren knocked the ball out of Chris Warren's hands and out of bounds. Chris Johnson then stole the inbounds pass, got fouled and hit one of two free throws for the final margin.
Chris Wright, Dayton's leading scorer and rebounder, was held to nine points on 1-of-9 shooting. He pulled down 12 rebounds, though.
Chris Warren had 15 points and Holloway 12 for the Rebels, who averaged 88 points in their first three NIT games. They shot only 33.9 percent in this one, including 6 of 23 (26.1 percent) from 3-point range.
"Offensively we struggled with rhythm, which is a credit to Dayton, putting a lot of pressure on the ball," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We didn't make plays. It's been our M.O. all season. It has never been a lack of effort or competitive drive. It's really just leaving a few plays on the floor, and tonight was another example of that."
Ole Miss also was hurt by a technical foul on Reginald Buckner with 3:09 left. He and Chris Johnson got tied up going for a loose ball, and Buckner threw a right forearm to Chris Johnson's throat as they finally untangled.
Wright separated the players before Chris Johnson hit both free throws, pushing Dayton's lead to 64-58.
Holloway then scored on a jump hook, and Chris Warren hit a pair of free throws to get the Rebels within two with 1:04 to go.
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