East Lansing — Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant looked at Oregon’s statistical profile and figured the Ducks could be beaten.
It just wouldn’t be easy.
“All we had to do was be better than them for two hours,” Merchant said. “That’s what we just kept talking about. For two hours, our stats have to be just a little bit better.”
Jenna Allen scored 27 points — including a big 3-pointer the final minute — and Michigan State handed No. 3 Oregon its first loss of the season, 88-82, on Sunday.
Up by three late in the fourth quarter, the Spartans ran the shot clock down and got the ball to Allen, who sank a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, then ran down the court with her arms outstretched to each side, holding three fingers out with each hand.
Sabrina Ionescu scored 29 points for Oregon and Erin Boley added 24, but the Ducks (7-1) didn’t start defending well until the final quarter, and Michigan State made enough shots late to pull out the win.
“They made a layup, they shot a wide open 3, or we fouled them. That was basically the whole game,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We just kind of went through the motions defensively. We’re not a very good defensive team anyway, and when you play with that kind of effort, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Oregon trailed by 11 early in the fourth but rallied to tie it at 75. It was 77-all when Sidney Cooks put Michigan State (8-1) back ahead with a shot from around the top of the key.
Shortly after that, Taryn McCutcheon connected from beyond the arc to push the lead to five. McCutcheon shot just 4 of 14 from the field but finished with 14 crucial points.
The Ducks scored the game’s first nine points, causing Michigan State to take an early timeout. It was 16-4 at one point, but the Spartans closed to within three by the end of the quarter.
Michigan State took a 39-37 lead when Allen made a 3-pointer while being fouled with 2:44 left in the half. The Spartans closed the second quarter on a 17-2 run and led 46-39 at halftime. Michigan State led 69-60 after three.
More state women
Michigan 85, (at) Oakland 59: Nicole Munger fired in 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting while Naz Hillmon added 16 points and nine rebounds for Michigan (7-3). Hailey Brown added 12 points for the Wolverines, who shot 50 percent (16-for-32) from the floor in the first half. Taylor Jones finished with 15 points while LaKyesha Stennis and Teneena Heston each had 10 for Oakland (2-8).
Western Michigan 54, (at) Detroit Mercy 44: Jasmyn Walker, Leighah-Amori Wool and Maddie Watters each scored 11 as the Broncos (3-4) jumped to an 18-2 lead in the first quarter en route to their first road victory. Jess Bickness had 12 points for the Titans (2-7).
Top 25 men
No. 7 Tennessee 76, No. 1 Gonzaga 73: Admiral Schofield hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left and scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half, helping Tennessee knock off top-ranked Gonzaga in the Colangelo Classic.
Tennessee (7-1) jumped on Gonzaga early and fought back from a nine-point, second-half deficit.
Reigning SEC player of the year Grant Williams fouled out with 2:30 left, but the Vols went up two when Schofield banked in a 3-pointer with 80 seconds left.
After Rui Hachimura tied it with two free throws, Schofield hit a long 3 and Tennessee held on for its first win over a No. 1 team — fifth overall — since beating Kansas in 2010.
Gonzaga (9-1) had two shots at a tying 3-pointer, but Zach Norvell Jr. and Hachimura missed.
(At) No. 4 Virginia 57, VCU 49: Kyle Guy scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Ty Jerome had 11 of his 14 in the second for Virginia.
Guy , while Jerome put up 11 of his 14 after the break.
Virginia (9-0) missed 13 of its first 15 shots after the break and VCU (7-3), coming off its road upset of Texas on Wednesday, led 37-36 midway through the second half.
No. 6 Nevada 74, Grand Canyon 66: Jordan Carolina had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Nevada used a late run to finally shake Grand Canyon in the Colangelo Classic.
Nevada (10-0) had a short turnaround after playing No. 20 Arizona State late Friday night and found itself in what felt like a home environment for Grand Canyon.
Spurred by the road version of the rowdy Havocs student section, the Antelopes (5-4) held Nevada scoreless the opening 5 1/2 minutes and were within two at halftime.
Nevada finally put it away in the final two minutes, going on a 9-0 run to go up 71-61.
Jazz Johnson had 19 points and Caleb Martin finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolf Pack, off to their best start of the program’s Division I era (1969-70).
Trey Drechsel had 16 points and Alessandro Lever 13 for Grand Canyon.
(At) No. 15 Virginia Tech 81, South Carolina State 44: Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19 points to lead Virginia Tech.
Alexander-Walker hit 8 of 11 shots, including three 3-pointers for the Hokies (8-1). Damani Applewhite led South Carolina State (2-9) with 10 points.
(At) Texas 72, Purdue 68: Matt Coleman III scored 22 points and delivered the big second-half counterpunches Texas needed to overcome a career effort from Purdue’s Carsen Edwards as the Longhorns snapped a three-game losing streak.
Coleman scored six of Texas’ final eight points, including a 3 pointer and a short jumper in the lane that were crucial to keeping Texas (6-3) in the lead before Edwards’ seventh 3-pointer of the game.
Edwards tied his career high with 40 points but didn’t get a chance to get off a potential winner at the end. After Coleman missed the second of two free throws to keep the Boilermakers within 70-68 with 21 seconds left, the Longhorns sent two defenders at Edwards who had to pass the ball away.
Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler then turned the ball over on the Texas baseline with five seconds left. Elijah Mitrou-Long made two free throws to the Longhorns ahead by four.
Big East extends tournament deal
The Big East Conference has extended its agreement with Madison Square Garden to hold its postseason tournament at the venue through 2028.
The deal extends the current partnership by two years and ensures the Big East Tournament will be played at Madison Square Garden in the week leading up to Selection Sunday.
The Big East Tournament has been played at Madison Square Garden each year since 1983 and is the longest-running postseason championship at the same location in college basketball.
“Madison Square Garden and the Big East Conference has been the best marriage in college basketball for 36 years,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president of MSG Marquee Events.
The arena also hosted the Big Ten Championship last season a week before the Big East Tournament.