After watching a double-digit lead in the third quarter disappear, the Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team found itself down one with only 21 seconds to play. But Shay Colley was not ready for the season to end.
Central Michigan had just made what felt like the biggest shot of the NCAA Tournament first-round game. After a timeout and two CMU fouls, MSU got the ball to Colley on the right wing and cleared out.
The junior hesitated, blew by her defender and scooped under a help-side defender. The ball kissed off the glass and fell through the net with 7.6 seconds left in the game.
Michigan State held a lead for roughly three and-a-half quarters Saturday afternoon in South Bend. Twice in the third quarter the #9 seed Spartans lead reached double-digits. But halfway through the fourth quarter, Central Michigan re-took the lead at 75-74.
The two teams would trade blows through the final minutes of the game, with the lead bouncing back and forth. Sophomore Sidney Cooks may have had the best game of her MSU career, putting up a team-high 21-points off the bench. Her worth to the team was never more obvious than in the final 90 seconds.
Cooks scored off of a Colley pass to tie the game at 84. The sophomore secured a rebound and after a timeout made another layup to give MSU a two-point lead. But with less than 30 seconds left, the Spartans defense got lost on a screen at the top of the key, leaving Presley Hudson wide open for a go-ahead three.
The #8 seed Chippewas tried to break the MSU rhythm on the final offensive possession for the Spartans. Before the Colley layup, they twice fouled MSU, forcing them to execute multiple inbounds plays. CMU’s Micaela Kelly, who was 47 percent from the field on the day with 24 points, had an opportunity to hit a game-winning bucket in the final seconds, but missed the shot.
Cooks matched her career high in points Saturday, going 10-14 from the field and only missing once inside the three-point line. In addition to her 13 points, Colley finished with six assists and seven rebounds. Nia Clouden scored 16 points with seven assists and five rebounds.
After surviving their first-round game, Michigan State faces a much more difficult opponent. They will face top-seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish on their home court in South Bend Monday. Notre Dame easily handled their first-round matchup against Bethune-Cookman, 92-50.