In the heat of the game on Senior Day, coach Suzy Merchant wrote a number on the board: one. That was how many assists senior guard Taryn McCutcheon had at the half. She was six away from eclipsing Kristin Haynie as the all-time assist leader in Michigan State women’s basketball history.
"One?" McCutcheon asked, surprised. Then her team rallied behind her.
"Julia (Ayrualt) said, 'Throw me a pass,' and Nia (Hollie) said, 'Throw me a pass, I got you,'" McCutcheon said. "I lobbed it to Julia and she followed through with her word and that was it, I got super excited for a second, 'cause I was like, 'Oh my gosh we just did it.'"
The record was tied and senior forward Nia Hollie wanted to be the one to help McCutcheon break it.
"The support that she gives me is insane," McCutcheon said. "She genuinely wants me to be successful and I feel the same way for her, so we got each other and we've been through it all together."
With 40 seconds left in the third quarter, McCutcheon made her way to the left wing, Hollie set a screen then found her way to the corner for the pass she knew was coming.
Hollie received the dish from McCutcheon and drove into the paint. Pulling the ball from a cradle, Hollie put up her signature floater. The ball bounced off the back iron. Once. Twice. Three times.
To understand what that pass meant, what it meant for Hollie to take that shot, you have to travel back four years to a Michigan State dorm room at 4 a.m., where the pair ate Bagel Bites together.
"We had one night that we really got to know each other," McCutcheon said. "It was one of the first nights in the dorms in the summer, and we were making Bagel Bites together, and it was the best night. We just talked and talked about where we were from, what our plans were, just everything that we didn’t know about each other, and since then we’ve just had this deeper relationship … We always know that we can go to each other."
The pair stayed up late, sharing their life stories and opening up, building what would be a bond for life.
"We’ve been close ever since, we’ve had our fair share of cat fights and adversity, but no matter what, she has my back at the end of the day and vice versa," Hollie said.
They had each other’s backs through all four years, helping each other through their struggles and sharing joy in each other’s triumphs.
At 4 a.m. in an MSU dorm room, the pair set themselves on a collision course for a pass four years later.
“I want to get it, I want to do it,” Hollie told McCutcheon moments before the pass.
When Hollie told McCutcheon she wanted to get it for her, McCutcheon knew it was going to happen.
“I knew it, I was looking for her the whole time, she was like, ‘Taryn I got you,’ and I was like, ‘Bet,'” McCutcheon said. “I knew it was over, I knew we were going to get it.”
After the third bounce, Hollie’s shot fell in. Assist by Taryn McCutcheon.
McCutcheon stood alone as the all-time assist leader and it came off a bucket from Hollie.
Four years and millions of memories after that night in the MSU dorms, sharing their stories and Bagel Bites, McCutcheon and Hollie came through for each other again.
“She’s come through for me on many occasions and vice versa,” Hollie said. “I’ll still come through for her any day.”
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