INDIANAPOLIS – A strong fourth quarter push from redshirt senior guard Shay Colley wasn’t enough to undo a shaky first half. No. 8-seed Michigan State women’s basketball (16-14, 9-9) fell to No. 9-seed Purdue (17-14, 8-10) on Thursday, 72-63.
Starting off cold, the Spartans had some ground to make up. Purdue came out swinging, building an 11-point lead at the half, capitalizing on Michigan State’s offensive struggles.
Through the first half, the Spartans coughed up the ball nine times and shot just 23% from the field.
Redshirt senior guard Shay Colley played with urgency in the second half, fueling fight into the Spartans' last effort for a comeback.
She scored in the Spartans' first possession of the fourth quarter and again 30 seconds later.
The run led to a Purdue timeout.
“Let’s roll,” Colley said going into the huddle.
Her teammates listened, as they cut a 15-point deficit into a single-digit game with 3:58 left on steal from senior guard Taryn McCutcheon, then a layup from senior forward Nia Hollie.
With 1:07 left in the fourth quarter, McCutcheon drilled a three-pointer. After a Fatou Diagne layup for Purdue, McCutcheon came back down the court and sunk a quick jumper.
The Spartans cut the lead to six with just 51.5 seconds remaining.
It wasn’t enough.
Colley’s 14-point second half couldn’t bring the Spartans a win.
“Obviously, Shay’s a big part of that, we haven’t seen our senior all year,” coach Suzy Merchant said. “It was nice to finally see what a veteran guard can do, how they can put the team on their back, I thought she was a big reason why that happened.”
In McCutcheon’s last Big Ten game, she scored 10 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. The senior did it all in her final showing.
Freshman forward Julia Ayrault also had an 11 point, 10 rebound double-double.
From the Spartans’ two prior meetings with Purdue this season, one thing was telling: the Boilermakers' senior forward Ae’rianna Harris, senior guard Dominique Oden and junior guard Karissa McLaughlin couldn’t all be stopped at once.
In their third go at Purdue, none of them could be stopped.
Harris posted a 15 point, 10 rebound double-double. She swarmed Spartan shooters with seven blocks.
Oden also had 15 points and McLaughlin scored a team-high 17 points and seven assists.
Purdue’s big three couldn’t be silenced and the Spartans had a lid on the basket for most of the game.
Overall, Michigan State shot just 29%, after posting 99 points the game before. Inexperience hurt them, as it has all season.
“We just put up 99 points and shot the heck out of the ball the game before, I think it’s youth,” Merchant said. “Some of these kids, they just aren’t consistent the way they score the ball from a field goal percentage standpoint. I think that’s been hard.”
With sophomore forward Kayla Belles injured and seeing limited time, the Spartans were out of sync from the start.
“The day before we left, she blew her ankle up,” Merchant said. “Typical end to our season, I guess, if you’re looking at what’s happened to us, the good players get hurt. ... Not having Kayla killed us.”
The loss ended the Spartans’ season and hopes of making it to an NCAA tournament.