Michigan State women’s basketball returned to the Breslin Center for one of its biggest tests of the season so far in No. 4 Indiana. The Spartans were up for the challenge, knocking off the Hoosiers 83-78 and handing IU its first loss of the season.
With the win, MSU advances to 9-5 overall and 1-2 Big Ten play.
The pressure of facing a top-five opponent after a nine-day break for the holidays did not seem to affect the Spartans’ recent momentum as they came out strong clinching an early lead.
A rather full home crowd inside the Breslin Center got quite the show as MSU had no problem keeping up with the strong Hoosier offense and it showed with a 10-10 tie by the first timeout.
MSU was solid on its defense, which included redshirt junior guard Julia Ayrault slapping a shot from Indiana’s junior guard Sydney Parrish out of the air. The ball got into the hands of sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann who followed it up with a jumper, sending the home bench and crowd into a frenzy.
The Spartans held their own in the first half shooting 15-27 from the field. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers were 12-23.
Graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel was the star of the first half putting up 13 of 35 points in the first twenty minutes.
Although Indiana came out more put together in the second half with some greater offensive pushes, the Spartans maintained their momentum from the first twenty minutes.
Hagemann hit two free throws to give the Spartans an 11-point lead with under four minutes to play in the third quarter. Good offensive runs gave MSU the chance to start pulling away with the lead, but Indiana bounced back and stayed on the home team’s heels.
Indiana cut MSU’s lead to 53-50 in one of its best attempts to regain the lead of the second half, but Hagemann hit a three-point shot to put the Spartans up six with 32 seconds to play in the quarter.
The Hoosiers put up four points in less than two minutes during the fourth quarter to pull within one. A free throw from senior forward Mackenzie Holmes allowed IU to tie the game at 58-58, but MSU answered with nine points to Indiana’s four.
Sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh landed a three to push the Spartans to 70 points with just under four minutes to go.
Parrish fouled out with 1:07 left on the clock and Ekh made two free throws to put MSU up 77-71.
With 26 seconds left on the clock, freshman guard Yarden Garzon hit a three-pointer to pull Indiana within three points. The Hoosiers made a few final efforts to regain the lead, but MSU held on to win by five.
The Spartans will hit the road next week as they take on Northwestern in Evanston on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.
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