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MSU Women’s Basketball: Spartans Upset No. 2 Indiana, Advance to Semi-Finals

MSU Athletic Communications

The Michigan State Spartans scored a spectacular upset in Thursday evening’s action of the 2021 Big Ten Tournament, downing the No. 2 seeded-Indiana Hoosiers 69-61. The win pushed the Spartans’ win streak to three-straight and moves the overall record to 15-7 on the season. MSU is also now 3-2 all-time against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.

The win puts the Spartans in the semi-finals today against Iowa, and marks the program’s first appearance in the semi-finals since the 2017 Big Ten Tournament. MSU fell 100-89 to Maryland that season.

Indiana had early success in this one as MSU suffered multiple turnovers in the first quarter. The Hoosiers jumped out to a 15-9 lead early, and the Spartans finished the quarter with seven total turnovers. Michigan State managed to keep it close before the end of the first, trailing 16-11 at the end of the quarter.

Four minutes into action in the second quarter, Indiana managed to push its lead out to 25-15. The Hoosiers stretched the lead out to as much as 11 over the final minutes of the first half, while Grace Berger scored eight for the Hoosiers alone in the second quarter. However, Michigan State ate away at the lead to cut it back to single digits before halftime. At the buzzer the Spartans trailed just 34-26.

Nia Clouden opened the third period with a three-pointer as MSU opened with a 9-0 run to take its first lead since the first quarter, up 35-34. Michigan State would go on to score 12 of the quarter’s initial 16 points before it became a back and forth scoring trade-off between the teams. Clouden finished the quarter with 15 points, half of her final 30 in the game.

Michigan State opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run that pushed its lead out to 55-48 in the first three minutes of action. IU’s Alsi Patberg responded with her own 4-0 run that caused the Spartans to take a timeout with 4:14 left.

Tory Ozment helped ice the game for Michigan State with 1:55 left, though, as she hit a clutch three-pointer to help keep the game out of reach. She suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury in transitioning back to defense and had to be helped off the court, though. MSU sealed the win down the stretch from the free throw line, going 9-for-12 to ensure a 69-61 final.

Clouden’s 30 points led both teams in scoring, and set a career-high for Clouden. That is her third 30-point game of the season, all of which came against top-25 opponents. She also fell just one point shy of tying the school record of 31 points in a Big Ten Tournament game that was set by Aerial Powers, Tori Jankoska, and Liz Shimek. Alyza Winston also added double figures for a third-straight game, scoring 13. She fouled out in the final minutes, though.

Head coach Suzy Merchant moves into sole possession of sixth place on the Big Ten Tournament career coaching wins list with her 15th victory at the event, passing former Purdue coach Kristy Curry (14 wins from 1999-2006). Merchant is 15-13 (.536) all-time at the Big Ten Tournament since coming to MSU prior to the 2007-08 season. It was also the Spartans first win over a top-10 opponent since Jan. 17, 2019 when MSU defeated No. 9 Maryland 77-60 at the Breslin Center.

Suzy Merchant Post-Game Remarks

Alyza Winston Post-Game Remarks

Nia Clouden Post-Game Remarks

Michigan State will now face No. 6-seeded Iowa. The game will follow the opener between No. 1-seeded Maryland and No. 5-seeded Northwestern, which tips at 2 p.m. The game will air on FS2.

The Spartans played Iowa in East Lansing on Dec. 12 and won a close one, 86-82. Winston scored 25, while Clouden added 21 and Julia Ayrault added 19. The Hawkeyes are 17-8 on the season overall and scored wins over the No. 11-seeded Boilermakers and No. 3-seeded Rutgers to advance to the semi-finals.