Strong second half pushes Indiana past Michigan State

  • 02/09/2024 8:30 am in

Three seconds before halftime, Michigan State’s Julia Ayrault sank her fourth 3-pointer. All the momentum was in favor of the Spartans.

Michigan State was in position to earn bragging rights against Indiana for the second straight season with a 53-43 lead at halftime. The Spartans scored 32 points in the first ten minutes and went 14-20 from the field in that span. Michigan State had also burned the Hoosiers from the outside. The open space on the perimeter saw the Spartans shoot 7-10 from deep in the half. The Spartans were on a tear, and any shot they put up felt like it was going in.

The offensive outburst put Indiana in jeopardy of its first home loss and after allowing 50-plus points in the half, Teri Moren and the Hoosiers knew something had to change.

In all three of Indiana’s losses this year, the third quarter has hindered their ability to get back into the game. And with the way Michigan State came out in the third quarter, Indiana saw the dangers of a similar situation taking place.

“What we’ve been trying to do is figure out our third quarter starts,” Moren said postgame. “Our third quarters have been not very good. I think we can all agree with that. And so after the Ohio State game, I talked to them about, right now, the Achilles heel is our third quarter starts. And so, what can we do to change that? How can we help you guys?”

As any good team does, Indiana adjusted at the break. After the coaches and players spoke in the locker room at halftime, the Hoosiers returned to the floor. And this time, the third quarter was different.

Slowly but surely, Indiana inched its way back into the game, chomping down at the deficit. And as the Hoosiers started to get some stops, that provided the fuel necessary to capture a 94-91 win against Michigan State, Indiana’s 19th victory of the season and 12th at home.

“We knew that they were going to come in here and get their shots up,” Mackenzie Holmes said. “They were just hitting shot after shot, and we knew we just had to stay the course. Stick with our game plan and adjust, and I think we did all those things down the stretch.”

The Hoosiers limited Michigan State to its worst shooting quarter and outscored the Spartans 23-15 in the third quarter.

Indiana still trailed by two entering the fourth quarter but maintained its hot shooting in the final 10 minutes. The Hoosiers only missed two shots in the fourth quarter.

After a fourth quarter that saw plenty of lead changes, Indiana took the lead for good on a Mackenzie Holmes layup with 1:12 remaining. The final quarter was a full team effort. Yarden Garzon scored 11 of her 20 points in the final 10 minutes. Lexus Bargesser’s defensive effort was tremendous. Sara Scalia knocked in a clutch 3-pointer and made her free throws. Chloe Moore-McNeil registered her first career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. Holmes, of course, was dominant in the post again and finished with a game-high 28 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.

Indiana knew that they would need everyone’s best to dig out the win, so they did what they do best: play as a team.

“We’re still down a starter, you know; people forget that Sydney Parrish is still sitting over there,” Moren said. “We’re down a starter but yet figure out a way to, especially in the second half, climb back into the game, regain the lead, and then have to make big plays down the stretch and make make big shots… I think our kids, you know, just the way that they fought back. I think it’s something that they are going to be really proud of when we come in tomorrow.”

The win was pivotal because it kept the Hoosiers in the mix for the Big Ten regular season title. Rather than faltering after being down 10 at halftime, Indiana matched the moment and dug deep on a night where Michigan State looked unstoppable at times.

“We’re going to continue to get everybody’s best, and there’s going to be a lot of games where it’s going to come down to gut check moments, and we got to show keep showing the maturity,” Moren said. “It’s nights like tonight that are fun for all of us, right? Because it was a great day. We came out on top, but I do think it will serve as well.”

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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