Indiana Daily Student

No. 2 seed IU women’s basketball falls 69-61 to No. 7 Michigan State in Big Ten Tournament

Junior guard Grace Berger attempts a shot Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten women's basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. No. 2 seed IU led No. 7 seed Michigan State at halftime 34-26.
Junior guard Grace Berger attempts a shot Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten women's basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. No. 2 seed IU led No. 7 seed Michigan State at halftime 34-26.

No. 2 seed IU women’s basketball was upset by No. 7 seed Michigan State 69-61 in its first game of the Big Ten Tournament. A dominant start for the Hoosiers was shut down by constant fouls and scoring difficulty in the second half.

The Hoosiers started their tournament debut Thursday with defensive tenacity, forcing five turnovers from the Spartans within the first five minutes of play. Junior forward Aleksa Gulbe ignited IU’s offense with a 3-pointer, putting the team up by 1 point. 

The Hoosiers held onto the lead by forcing two more turnovers from the Spartans, grabbing offensive rebounds and pushing a fast pace. IU led 16-11 after the first quarter. 

Poor free-throw shooting kept IU from stretching the lead over Michigan State. After junior guard Grace Berger went 2-4 from the line in the second quarter, the Hoosiers’ free throw shooting percentage was 37.5%. 

“The first half we just left the door open,” Moren said. “We missed too many layups, too many free throws. We could have done enough to have more of a lead at halftime if we did those two fundamental things.”  

IU later ran into a five-minute scoring drought after Michigan State clamped down on defense, trapping and double teaming the Hoosiers near the baseline. However, IU was able to outscore Michigan State 18-15 in the second quarter, ending the half with a 34-26 lead. 

Senior guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary got into foul trouble early in the second half with three fouls after she picked up two of them almost immediately. Moren said benching Cardaño-Hillary hurt because she had been keeping Michigan State junior guard Nia Clouden at bay.

“Niki was doing a good job on Clouden, but then we had to protect her as much as we could,” Moren said. “That was a little bit frustrating.” 

With the Spartans shooting 75% from the free-throw line, they quickly closed in on the Hoosiers’ lead. A made free throw from Clouden put them up 38-36 with 6:23 to go in the third quarter.  

The Hoosiers had seven fouls in the third quarter and shot 36%, allowing the Spartans to take control of the game. Michigan State outscored IU 21-11 and ended the quarter with a 47-45 lead. 

IU continued to struggle on offense in the fourth quarter, while Michigan State went on an 8-0 run after Clouden and sophomore guard Alyza Winston both hit three-pointers, extending the Spartans’ lead 55-47.

“They played great offensively down the stretch,” Patberg said. “Clouden, she was unstoppable, and we did not have an answer for her.” 

IU was again outscored 22-16 in the last quarter, with 12 of Michigan State’s points coming from Clouden. Fouls continued to haunt IU as the Spartans went 9-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Berger fouled out while Gulbe, Cardaño-Hillary and senior guard Ali Patberg all ended with four fouls. 

“We played pretty poorly in all areas, so we have to own that,” Patberg said. “We have a lot of basketball left. We did not envision losing, but we have to get better. We have to get a lot better. This is going to be a wake up call for us.” 

The No. 2 seed Hoosiers are now out of the tournament and will not resume play until the NCAA Tournament, which will start March 22. 

“Coach Moren said that we have to shelf it because we have much bigger games ahead of us, and we can’t keep looking back to this one,” Holmes said. “We just have to move on and keep on pushing.”

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