Spokane, Wash. — The Spartans had lost their fearless leader and a 16-point lead, senior forward Raymar Morgan had lost a tooth and the Spartans were seconds away from losing their season Sunday in Spokane, Wash.
Then Korie Lucious came to the rescue.
Just when it seemed all was lost, the sophomore guard hit a 3-point shot as time expired and No. 5-seed MSU defeated No. 4-seed Maryland, 85-83, sending the Spartans (26-8) to St. Louis for their third consecutive Sweet 16.
On Friday, the Spartans will take on No. 9-seed Northern Iowa, which defeated No. 1-overall seed Kansas on Saturday.
“With a minute and a half, two minutes left, I told my team when we were up four or six, ‘We’ll win this game. It’s going to be one of the greatest wins in the history of Michigan State,” MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. “Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but if you know what we went through, as far as today with (junior guard Kalin Lucas) out, and (sophomore forward Delvon Roe) just had nothing left, and these guys having to play a lot of minutes, and it just seemed like it was one thing after another.”
The game was a microcosm of the entire season — blown leads, lapses in focus, injuries and fights to the finish.
Lucas, already nursing a sore right ankle, likely tore his Achilles tendon in his left foot with two minutes to play in the first half after coming down awkwardly after a shot attempt.
With Lucas down, Lucious stepped into the forefront at point guard.
“We always preach about being family, being together and sticking together through thick and thin no matter what it is, through the good and the bad,” Lucious said. “When Kalin went down, we all rallied around him and told him, ‘Hey, no matter with or without you, we got your back, and we’re going to get this win for you.’”
Lucious finished with 13 points and two assists in 27 minutes, including 19 in the second half.
The Spartans took a 48-39 lead into halftime and opened up a 16-point lead with 12 minutes to play thanks to the heroics of junior guard Durrell Summers, who tied a career high with 26 points and scored 14 of MSU’s first 17 to open the second half.
But once Summers and sophomore forward Draymond Green each picked up their fourth foul within seconds of each other with 6:19 to play, Maryland turned up the pressure.
The Terrapins went on a 19-6 run to take their first lead of the game, 81-80, on a drive by guard Greivis Vasquez with 35 seconds remaining. Vasquez led the Terrapins with 26 points, including 10 of their final 12.
After a jump shot by Green returned the lead to MSU, Vasquez made a runner with six seconds remaining to put Maryland up 83-82.
“I thought we had the game won,” Vasquez said.
The Spartans didn’t call a timeout as Green took the ball up the court and passed it to Lucious, who won the game with a three.
“I had the open look and (Green) hit me so I just tried to get it up and it went in,” Lucious said.
After Lucious’ game-winning shot went in, the team, coaches, managers and even Sparty, jumped into the celebration pile.
“That just shows how close we are as a university,” Lucious said. “We all got each other’s back, and we were happy to get the win.”
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