Michigan State women fall to Indiana in four overtimes

Murphy Wheeler
Special to The Detroit News
Indiana's Tyra Buss is fouled by Michigan State's Sidney Cooks Thursday night.

Indianapolis — Michigan State sophomore guard Shay Colley hit two would-be winning shots during her team’s matchup with Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday.

However, neither would prove to be enough as MSU suffered an exhausting, 111-109 quadruple-overtime loss.

The Spartans fell behind early in the first quarter as IU came out hot from the outside. The Hoosiers opened by shooting 11-for-19 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range while Michigan State shot just 6-for-15 and 1-for-4.

After one, the Spartans trailed 26-17.

In the second, Michigan State struggled to gain any ground on the Hoosiers. It became a back-and-forth battle as the teams traded buckets throughout the quarter. However, when sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon closed the first half with back-to-back 3-pointers, the Spartans had gotten back within single digits at 45-37.

Senior forward Taya Reimer said her team’s focus at halftime was solely on defense.

“The first half killed up defensively,” Reimer said. “It’s really been like that all year where there’s maybe one quarter that kills us and then we’re digging out of a hole.”

The Spartans completely reversed their slow first-half start at the beginning of third quarter. Colley, Reimer and senior guard Branndais Agee combined for all of Michigan State’s points during a 13-6 run that saw the Spartans shoot 6-for-7 from the field.

Despite taking advantage of five third-quarter turnovers by the Hoosiers and getting back within one point, the Spartans still trailed 58-52 heading into the fourth quarter.

Early in the final quarter, Michigan State found itself back within one point after another clutch three from McCutcheon with 7 minutes remaining. When Colley hit two free throws 2 1/2 minutes later, it gave the Spartans their first lead.

They managed to lead by as much as three from there but the Hoosiers battled back to regain the lead multiple times. Eventually, the teams traded buckets down the stretch and it was tied for most of the final minute. When IU senior forward Amanda Cahill put the Hoosiers back in the lead with a putback, Colley responded with a layup to tie things at 74 with 25 seconds remaining. After neither team could capitalize on its final possessions, the game went to overtime.

From there, the game remained tight. When Colley’s would-be winning layup at the buzzer was waved off, the teams remained tied at 80 and were sent into a second overtime.

In the second overtime, the Spartans started strong after big 3-pointers from sophomore forward Victoria Gaines and Colley, but IU clawed back again. After Colley hit her second would-be winner with 4 seconds to go, Cahill answered yet again for IU with a layup at the buzzer to send it into the third overtime.

It marked the first triple overtime game and what would be the longest game in the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament’s history.

Nobody could break away again in the third overtime, sending it to a fourth. There, Cahill’s two clutch free throws with 3 seconds left sealed the victory for IU after the Spartans couldn’t get a bucket to fall on their final possession.

“We had our chances and they had theirs,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant. “I think we had some tough calls against us but we just have to play through that stuff.”

Colley finished with a game-high 27 points while Reimer added 22 and McCutcheon had 21. Agee contributed a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds.

The loss ends Michigan State’s season and gives them a final record of 17-13.

Merchant said she liked the resiliency she saw from her team in their final game before any postseason play.

“It was disappointing but I thought our kids did a great job of bouncing back,” Merchant said. “I feel like a lot of things have gone against this team all year. I thought they did a great job of keeping their energy and focus and continue to keep fighting.”

Murphy Wheeler is a freelance writer.