Preview: Women's basketball faces tough Indiana team in second round
Who: Indiana Hoosiers (16-13, 9-7 Big Ten)
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
When: Thursday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: BTN2Go / Spartan Sports Network
The No. 10 women’s basketball team will start their run to a Big Ten Tournament title Thursday as they face the No. 7 Indiana Hoosiers (16-13, 9-7 Big Ten) after successfully avoiding a first-round matchup with Penn State’s loss to Ohio State Sunday.
This will be the first time the Spartans play the Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament since 2012, where MSU defeated Indiana in the first-round, 97-68.
MSU split the season series against Indiana with a win on the road on Dec. 28, 68-46. This win added to a six-game winning streak, which was the team’s longest winning streak of the season. Redshirt senior Branndais Agee dropped 21 points to go along with six rebounds in the Spartans' win.
However, the Hoosiers bounced back as they defeated the Spartans on Jan. 20, 69-65. This was the start of a six-game losing streak for MSU, and the team finished the season 3-6 over its last nine games of the season.
Junior center Jenna Allen, who grew up near Bedford, Indiana, might play be an important factor as she dropped 14 points and five rebounds in the first matchup of the season. Despite the loss in the second matchup, Allen led the team in scoring with 16 points.
Indiana is 8-1 over its last nine games, including a big victory over No.3 Nebraska, 83-75. Junior guard Tyra Buss leads the Hoosiers in scoring this season and averages 20.8 points per game. Buss dominated the Spartans in their victory, where she scored 28 points, seven assists and knocked down five 3-pointers.
"I think they're playing really well," head coach Suzy Merchant said in a teleconference. "Certainly Tyra and (Amanda) Cahill have really as seniors done what they should do, you know, really aggressively putting the team on their back."
For the first time in awhile MSU is back with a healthy lineup. The Spartans picked up a crucial final regular season win at Purdue, 82-68. Redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley is back after missing seven games with a knee injury and led the team with 21 points and six rebounds.
"Certain kids are playing more minutes, obviously being back like Shay," Merchant said. "We go 10 deep and it does help when you can put Nia out there and Lexi out there. Even Kennedy can play 8-10 minutes a game for us. If we needed her to, and I think that really helps us when you have to play back-to-back-to-back games."
MSU leads the all-time series against Indiana, 47-26, and is 2-2 against the Hoosiers over the past three seasons.
MSU 66 Indiana 61