No. 15/17 Spartans Edged By Hoosiers

Suzy Merchant (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Suzy Merchant (PHOTO: MSU SID)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Despite four Spartans scoring in double figures, the No. 15/17 Michigan State women's basketball team dropped another close road battle to Indiana, 68-64, at Assembly Hall on Sunday afternoon.

Michigan State has now dropped two-straight games after winning eight in a row and stands 11-3 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten action. Indiana sits atop the Big Ten with a 14-1 record and a 3-0 mark in league play.

The Spartans had four in double figures led by senior center Jenna Allen, the Bedford, Indiana native, playing in Bloomington for the final time. Allen had 15 points to go along with three rebounds. Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks added 12 points off the bench, while redshirt-sophomore forward Mardrekia Cook scored 11 points with seven boards in her return to the starting lineup. Freshman guard Nia Clouden also added 10 points.

Indiana was led by Brenna Wise who had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Spartans got off to a slow starting going 0-for-3 from the field, but MSU was also able to cause three Indiana turnovers in the first three minutes of action. Clouden scored the first bucket of the game at the 7:40 mark of the quarter. With 4:03 left in the first period, the Spartans held the slight 6-4 lead, forcing five turnovers. Despite Allen picking up two fouls in the first quarter, MSU held on a 15-11 advantage.

In the second quarter, the Spartans rushed out to a seven point lead at 22-15 before the Hoosiers used a 7-0 run to tie the score at 22-all. Indiana took a 28-27 lead with just over a minute left in the half after a Berger lay up. IU used 9-0 run to take a 33-27 lead into halftime. Indiana out-scored the Spartans 22-12 in the second quarter for the six-point intermission advantage.

The Hoosiers led most of the third quarter until 1:29 left in the third, when a 6-0 run after a pair of Shay Colley free throws gave MSU its first led of the second half, 45-44. The Spartans out-scored the Hoosiers 20-15 in the third period and trailed just 48-47 heading to the final frame.

Cook drained a 3-pointer from the right wing for a 52-50 Spartan lead with 8:25 to go, as the quarter maintained its back-and-forth lead exchanging. A jumper in the paint from Cooks gave MSU a 62-60 lead at the 2:50 mark, but IU countered with a jumper by Bendu Yeaney to level it at 62-62 with 1:49 left.

A Penn 3-pointer with a minute left gave IU the three-point lead 65-62 with 47 seconds left, but junior guard Taryn McCutcheon's layup pulled the Spartans within 65-64 with 31 ticks to go. Indiana's Ali Patberg hit 1-of-2 free throws with 23 seconds left for a 66-64 lead but MSU's 3-pointer with seven seconds to play was off the mark, and Wise hit a pair of free throws with three seconds left iced the game.

After two-straight games on the road, the Spartans return home to the Breslin Center to take on No. 12/13 Minnesota on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.

Post-Game Notes vs. Indiana
• Redshirt-sophomore forward Mardrekia Cook scored 11 points in her return to the starting lineup. She has scored in double figures four times this season and was just three points shy of her season high. She also added seven rebounds and was just one rebound short of her career high.

• For only the second time this season, the Spartans were held to under 70 points. Michigan State is 0-2 when not scoring at least 20 points.

• With the starting lineup of Nia Clouden, Taryn McCutcheon, Mardrekia Cook, Victoria Gaines and Jenna Allen, Michigan State has had three different starting lineups. McCutcheon, Clouden, Gaines and Allen are the only three Spartans to have started all 14 games. MSU is 4-1 with this starting lineup.

• The six-point deficit at half time tied the biggest of the season for the Spartans, trailing both NC State (Nov. 22) and Iowa (Dec. 30) at half time. The Spartans are now 1-2 when trailing at half time.

• Senior center Jenna Allen added 15 points in the loss. She has now scored in double figures 11 times this season and 37 times during her career.

• The Spartans have had four players in double figures six times and are 4-2 in those games.

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