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Women's basketball set for first ranked opponent Michigan State


Then-freshman guard Bendu Yeaney charges the basket during the IU's game against Michigan State on Dec. 28, 2017, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Since losing 68-46 in this game, the Hoosiers have won two straight against the Spartans.  Evan De Stefano

IU will square off against Michigan State at 2 p.m. Sunday, the first meeting between the schools since their record-breaking game in the 2018 Big Ten Tournament.

Four overtimes and 60 minutes of basketball later, the Hoosiers were able to hang on for a thrilling 111-109 victory. It was the longest running game in tournament history. 

That contest even topped the one previous to it on Jan. 20, 2018, where IU once again prevailed 69-65 in another exciting battle.

The Hoosiers and Spartans meet again in what has the makings to be another intense matchup. 

IU no longer has Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill – two of the most prolific players in program history – but the team is deeper and possibly more dynamic with the additions of juniors Ali Patberg and Brenna Wise as well as freshmen Grace Berger and Aleksa Gulbe. 

The Hoosiers have scorched out to a 13-1 start and have received votes to be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. A win over the Spartans Sunday might just be enough to crack the Hoosiers onto that list. 

Michigan State’s team is similar to last year's, and its 11-2 start has rewarded a No. 15 next to its name. They will be IU’s first ranked opponent this season. 

They are still led by 6-foot-4-inch center Jenna Allen, who is the older sister of IU commit Jorie Allen from North Lawrence High School in Bedford, Indiana. Allen is averaging 16 points per game this season and gave IU problems last year with her size and ability to hit midrange jumpers. 

The problem with doubling down on Allen is the Spartans have guards on the perimeter that can shoot. Guards Shay Colley, 14 points per game, and Taryn McCutcheon, 10.8 points per game, are both shooting above 42 percent from three-point range this season. No matter where you look on this Spartan roster, any player is capable of getting her own buckets. 

“I think they have every piece to the puzzle,” sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn said. “I think it will be a good game. I’m excited to play.”

As exciting as the last two meetings were between these teams, there was a third game played last season. It was Dec. 28, 2017, and Michigan State came into Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and beat IU 68-46. 

Coach Teri Moren asked her team this week if anyone remembered the last time Michigan State played in Bloomington. 

Heads went down as the players remembered. Penn called it the team’s biggest motivation coming into the game as the Hoosiers don’t want history to repeat itself. 

“One of our big goals for the Big Ten is being undefeated at home,” Penn said. “It’s special when fans are filled in that place. It gives us a lot of energy.”

Michigan State is coming off a road loss to Northwestern, while IU is coming off a home win against Penn State. The Spartans are 1-1 in conference play, while the Hoosiers are 2-0. 

Moren said she knows Michigan State will be ready to take the court again, and as for her team, she wants them to execute at a higher level. 

“We’re at home, and hopefully there’ll be a great crowd like there was the other night against Penn State,” Moren said. “We’re just moving forward and looking forward to the next opponent.”

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