INDIANAPOLIS — It seemed like a game that would ever end.
Despite a 12-point lead by Indiana before halftime, MSU clawed its way back to force four overtime periods in a back-and-forth affair Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but fell short on the last possession of the game.
After a pair of free throws from Victoria Gaines, MSU tied the game at 109 with 20 seconds remaining. Cahil was fouled trying to drive the land with three seconds remaining, and made both free throws. A tumbling Taryn McCutcheon jumper from the left elbow was unable to find its way in as the game ended.
The 10th-seeded Spartans (17-13 overall) likely needed to string together a few wins to keep any postseason hopes alive, but the future for MSU remains unknown after it fell to seventh-seeded Indiana, 111-109.
MSU got 25 from guard Shay Colley, who was questionable to start after re-injuring her right knee in practice Wednesday. Forward Taya Reimer scored 22 and McCutcheon added 21.
“It just came down to execution,” Colley said. “Four overtimes. So they were the team that executed at the end of the day, and that’s that.”
The Hoosiers (17-13), meanwhile, will advance to play second-seeded Maryland (23-6)Friday evening at 6:30.
Indiana’s starting five scored all of its points, led by Amanda Cahil’s 38 points and nine rebounds. Tyra Buss scored 24, Yeaney Bendu had 19, Jaelynn Penn scored 16 and Kym Royster scored 14.
“They’re really big and really physical,” Cahil said. “So we really wanted to try and double and muck it up inside and not make them get easy looks.”
IU started with a 9-2 run and built a commanding lead in the first half. The Hoosiers led 45-32 with 1:58 left in the second half, but two-straight field goals from McCutcheon cut it to a 45-37 game at halftime.
In the third quarter, MSU again cut it within one, after a 3 from McCutcheon from the left elbow made it 63-62 with 6:58 to play and went on a 6-0 run with 3:40 left to take a 68-65 lead — its first of the game.
With six seconds in regulation and the game tied at 74, Branndais Agee was unable to score on a breakaway layup attempt. Overtime.
“I though our kids did a great job at bouncing back,” MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. “I thought they were engaged in all the overtimes. Certainly it was disappointing, and I felt like a lot of things have gone against this team this year.”
Time expired in the first overtime as Colley laid up the game winning basket as time expired. Colley’s shot came after a steal with seven seconds left. After review by the refs, however, the shot did not get off in time and the teams entered a second overtime tied at 80.
“They said there was more than eight seconds that went off, there was something wrong with the timer or something,” Merchant said. “They timed it and they said it took eight seconds, and they didn’t count the basket.”
MSU nearly sealed the win after a driving layup from Colley in double overtime. Colley’s score made it 91-89 with 4.1 seconds remaining. Cahil, however, beat the buzzer after a Hoosier timeout to send the game into a third overtime.
Colley fouled out with 3:50 in the final overtime. Inserted was bench guard Lexi Gussert, who scored on her own offensive rebound with 1:07 left, giving the Spartans a 107-106 lead.
The Spartans will await their postseason hopes until next Monday, when the NCAA Tournament committee selects the 64-team field. ESPN will televise the selection show at 7 p.m. on March 12.
“We’re just going to have to see,” Reimer said of a tournament bid. “It’s unfortunate because we were really hoping to make a run in this tournament and control our destiny in that way. At this point we don’t know.”
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