INDIANAPOLIS — The fate of women's basketball's season might have come down to a matter of seconds.
Tied with the Hoosiers 80-all in overtime, MSU point guard Taryn McCutcheon rebounded a missed layup from Indiana’s Amanda Cahill with 3.2 seconds left. McCutcheon threw the ball to Victoria Gaines, who lobbed it to a wide open Shay Colley with 2.5 seconds on the game clock.
Colley’s baseline layup left her hands with 0.1 seconds left on the clock and rattled in, seemingly sealing the win for the Spartans.
But it didn’t. After official review, the game clock paused after McCutcheon’s rebound and the clock should have expired before Colley’s shot. The rest was history. The Spartans (17-13 overall) dropped a 111-109 quadruple overtime decision — the longest game in Big Ten Tournament history.
Shay Colley finishes a possible game-winning bank shot. But game clock momentarily stopped at 2.5 seconds. Basket is waived off.
“We went to the monitor,” referee Michael McConnell said in a postgame statement. “We determined, with a stopwatch, from the time the ball was touched inbounds with 7.7 (seconds) on the clock, using a stopwatch, we got to at least eight seconds, probably 8.7. So, there was at least one second, the ball was in her hand well past 7.7, so we determined that the field goal was no good.”
The play was under review for a long time, and many of the players on the floor weren’t sure why it was getting looked at.
“I was on the floor so I didn't see it, but a couple of my teammates were saying, 'The clock stopped, the clock stopped,' and I think all of us were kind of like, 'Are you sure?' Just kind of like, sending up some prayers and really hoping,” said Cahill, who scored a game-high 38 points. “We were trying to read the ref's lips and see what he was trying to say, but it was pretty fortunate.”
The shot, if good, would have given the Spartans a chance to play the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins (23-6) Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Rather, MSU is bounced after its first round and the Hoosiers (17-3) advance.
MSU coach Suzy Merchant doesn’t think the hypotheticals matter.
“I think what hurt us was we couldn't get a couple stops down the stretch,” she said. “That really hurt. We had the lead there twice when they had the ball at the end of two regulations. If we could have just got a stop — we couldn't get the stop.”
Colley ended up with 27 points on a team-best 10-of-28 shooting from the floor. The 5-foot-9 sophomore transfer from South Carolina also added six rebounds and three assists in 48 minutes. She accounted for five of MSU’s 13 turnovers.
“Anything for my team,” Colley, who fouled out with 3:50 in the last overtime, said. “We really wanted this one. If it came down to like 70 minutes, I was still going to be out there.”
Merchant said Wednesday Colley was questionable for the game, after she re-injured her right knee in practice. She also said Colley was inserted back into the starting lineup Thursday moments before tipoff.
“You saw it out there,” Colley said. “I played the four overtimes until I fouled out, so I think coming in my knee wasn't an option; I knew I was going to play regardless.”
It’s unclear now if the Spartans, who have three wins against AP Top-25 opponents, have the resume to make the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. Merchant said her focus was on the game, but she is proud of the fight her team has put up all season.
“We've had a lot of adversity just in general, so many injuries and issues,” Merchant said. “It's just been tough on these kids, and I thought they did a great job of just keeping their energy and focus and finding a way to keep moving forward and keep fighting.”
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