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BSU's Persons clinches 3 Sunday wins in MAC's 3rd-place finish at 3X3U

By TYSON MATHEWS - BSU Athletic Department

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Tayler Persons made three game-clinching buckets Sunday, as the Mid-American Conference team came within two points of a shot at the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship.

Persons’ squad fell to the eventual champions from the Colonial Athletic Association in the semifinals on ESPN2. The MAC bounced back to defeat the Northeast Conference in the third-place contest on his final game-winner.

The Kokomo, Indiana, product recently completed his senior season at Ball State. He teamed with fellow MAC seniors Larry Austin Jr. (Central Michigan), Jaelan Sanford (Toledo) and Jaylin Walker (Kent State) to represent the league this Final Four weekend in front of large crowds at the Mall of America.

All 32 Division I conferences fielded teams composed of players who just exhausted their collegiate eligibility. This was the second year of the 3-on-3 event, with games played to 21 points or 10 minutes, whichever came first. Baskets were worth one point from inside the arc and two points from beyond it.

The MAC team advanced through pool play Friday and Saturday with a 2-1 record, posting wins over the Big East and the Sun Belt, to reach the round of 16. The rest of the tournament was played Sunday, with teams needing to win four straight games to claim the $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the USA Basketball 3x3 Open National Championship.

Persons hit game-winners in Sunday’s round of 16 and quarterfinals to beat the Big Ten, last year’s tournament champion, and the MAAC. The second of those wins avenged his team’s only pool play loss.

In the semifinals, the MAC fell victim to the CAA and tournament MVP Justin Wright-Foreman, a two-time league player of the year at Hofstra. Wright-Foreman rallied the CAA from behind for a 21-19 victory and then led his team past the West Coast Conference in the championship game.

The MAC squad rebounded to blitz the NEC in the consolation game, with Persons’ driving bucket clinching the win.

Persons had a flair for the dramatic at Ball State, too. He hit three game-winning 3-pointers during his junior season, including one over a top-10 Notre Dame squad. The three-time All-MAC selection finished his career ninth in school history in points (1,558) and third in assists (447) despite playing just his final three seasons with the Cardinals.