Mississippi State University ended their basketball season in disappointment, losing to Liberty on Friday night by a score of 80-76. It was a season of relative success that ended in defeat during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Ben Howland said it was a tough loss for the program in a press release sent out by the MSU athletic department.
"It's just a tough, tough pill, tough one to swallow," Howland said. "Especially the way we had the lead late in the game."
The game was potentially the last game for Lamar Peters, a junior point guard from New Orleans who is expected to try for the NBA draft after this season.
Peters said he felt the weight of the game, as it was potentially his last with Quindarry Weatherspoon and Aric Holman, who are both seniors. It ended in the final minute of play, as the game clock hit zero on the MSU season and his collegiate career.
"At that moment, I was just thinking about the season ending like be my last time playing Q and Aric," Peters said. "So it was like a lot going through my mind processing a lot at that time. It all hurt, it is a hard pill to swallow because we put in so much work coming into this moment."
It was the first NCAA Tournament MSU's men's team had made in a decade, and it ended what Quindarry Weatherspoon had said was their ultimate goal at the beginning of the season: winning the National Championship.
In his four-year career at MSU, Quindarry Weatherspoon was the anchor of the Bulldogs, as he was calm, cool and collected, fulfilling a leadership role on the team. Quindarry Weatherspoon said he was content with his career at MSU.
"I love these guys," Weatherspoon said. "And I'd do the same thing over again with them."
Quindarry Weatherspoon, Peters and Holman will also leave a long lasting impact on the younger players like Robert Woodard II, a freshman guard from Columbus. Woodard said they led the team well.
"They motivated us well, as well as teaching the young guys, freshmen, on how to control ourselves," Woodard said. "To stay consistent throughout the season. So just going through the season with them, we have learned a lot and we are just going to use these games as teaching lessons to move forward."
The three veteran players all placed MSU basketball back on the path to success, as they made a deep run in the NIT last year, losing in the semi finals to Penn State, and then a return to the NCAA Tournament.
While part of the seniors' legacy is still to be written, as the players they helped lead this year return to the hardwood next year with the expectations of improvement, there is no doubt they meant a lot to Howland, who said he was proud of Quindarry Weatherspoon and Aric Holman.
"I will always be very thankful and really, really appreciative of their efforts and what they have done for Mississippi State basketball," Howland said.