Bulldogs Claim 2022 Rocket Mortgage Tip-Off Championship
Mississippi State relied on tough defense down the stretch and held on for a thrilling 52-49 win over Utah in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Beach Division championship game on Wednesday night.
Dashawn Davis scored a game-high 18 points by way of a 6-of-9 performance from three. Tolu Smith came up clutch for the Bulldogs with a double-double – 16 points and 16 rebounds – and the go-ahead putback that put Mississippi State up 47-45 with three minutes to go.
Smith went on to be named tournament MVP following the contest. The Bulldogs’ big man averaged 12.5 points and 16 rebounds, and totaled six assists, two blocks and two steals in the two tournament games.
Lockdown defense was on full display in the first half, with neither team shooting above 35 percent. The Bulldogs held a 25-21 lead at the break, with 19 of their points coming from Smith and DJ Jeffries.
Utah took the lead early in the second half off an 11-2 run, but Mississippi State battled back. After a 3-pointer by Davis tied the game with just over three minutes to play, Smith’s putback and another three by Davis extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 50-46 with 2:27 remaining. Utah had one final chance down three with 4.3 seconds left, but Rollie Worster’s half-court heave came up short.
Marco Anthony led Utah with 10points and eight rebounds, and Ben Carlson contributed 10 points of his own.
Following tonight’s action, the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off announced its 2022 Beach Division All-Tournament Team:
Tolu Smith, Mississippi State (MVP)
Dashawn Davis, Mississippi State
Marco Anthony, Utah
Kam Jones, Marquette
Ja’von Franklin, Georgia Tech