The Michigan State women weren’t going to lose to Purdue this time. Nia Clouden wouldn’t let them.
A little less than two months after Clouden had one of the worst games of her season, going 2-for-13 en route to seven points in a loss to the Boilermakers on Jan. 9, the senior poured in 23 points Thursday in the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis to give the No. 8-seeded Spartans a 73-69 win.
Next up, the Spartans will face No. 1-seed Ohio State in the tournament quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. Friday. MSU lost both of its games against OSU this season, each by six points.
BIG TEN WOMEN:Full schedule, results
AWARD SEASON:Clouden All-B1G first team
Clouden shot just 6-for-17 from the floor Thursday, but hit 10 of 11 free throws, including five of six over the final two minutes. In addition to getting to the line often as the clock was winding down, Clouden played the final 99 seconds with four fouls. She was one of three Spartans (along with Alisia Smith and Tamara Farquhar) who wound up in foul trouble, despite MSU committing only three fouls in the fourth quarter.
“t’s kind of just you play hard and whatever happens, happens,” Clouden said. “So you can live with getting a foul if you’re playing hard on defense or trying to box out or setting a good screen and stuff like that.”
Smith finished with 15 points, on 7-for-14 shooting, and Farquhar had nine points and nine rebounds. Taiyier Parks added 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench and freshman Matilda Ekh scored 10, including a key 3-pointer off an assist from Farquhar to give the Spartans the lead with a little over seven minutes left in the game.
The Spartans built a five-point lead going into the final five minutes before a pair of Purdue 3-pointers, by Jeanae Terry and Cassidy Hardin give the Boilermakers the lead again with 3:26 to play.
But then Farquhar took over, with five points in 42 seconds on a pair of free throws followed by a jumper in the paint with 2:15 left and another free throw when she was fouled on that shot.
From there, Clouden closed it out with five of the Spartans’ final six points.
“I thought these two were really good,” MSU coach Suze Merchant said of Clouden and Farquhar. “We got a lot of our inside game, even though both of them were in foul trouble, and we had to play in those situations, I mean, Tamara had a huge bucket down the stretch and had an opportunity at the free throw line and needed to get to the line and finish it. And that’s what you got to do at this of your career, right, when you’re an upperclassman, it’s survive-and-advance.
“And I’m just really proud of our team and we’ll enjoy it for a little bit and move on and got the Buckeyes next.”
The Spartans finished the regular season with a 61-56 loss to Ohio State in East Lansing in which Clouden scored 19 points but hit just four of her 21 shots. The Spartans shot 25% overall (16-for-64), as Ekh struggled – going 1-for-14 overall and 0-for-9 from 3-point range. So how will MSU adjust in their third meeting with OSU?
“We’re going to have to continue defensively to be able to play outside in,” Merchant said. “So I think we can carry that over, because Purdue was very much similar, outside in, 3-point shooting, driving team, so that’s going to be important for us.
“And then for to us carry over, can we score the ball consistently, can we score it inside a little bit, get offensive rebound put backs and kind of create some offense for ourselves, particularly inside with our post players?”
For the Boilermakers, Madison Layden and Abbey Ellis each had 17 points, with Terry adding 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
More Big Ten women’s tournament
No. 14 Indiana 66, Rutgers 54: Ali Patberg and Grace Berger did a bit of everything as the No. 5-seeded Hoosiers dispatched the Scarlet Knights with some tight defense. Patberg had 19 points (on 6-for-10 shooting) with six assists and five rebounds while Berger had 17 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Hoosiers. No. 13 seed Rutgers shot just 36.5%, including a 2-for-10 mark from 3-point range, despite outrebounding UI, 35-30. Osh Brown and Sayawni Lassiter each scored 12 for the Scarlet Knights. Next up, the Hoosiers face No. 4-seeded Maryland at approximately 2 p.m. Friday, with the winner facing the winner of Michigan State vs. Ohio State.
Northwestern 65, Minnesota 60: The Wildcats didn’t get much from their bench – just four points – but four starters scored in double figures, led by Veronica Burton’s 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Lauryn Satterwhite chipped in 15 points and Courtney Shaw and Jillian Brown added 11 points apiece for No. 7-seeded Northwestern. Next up, the Wildcats will face No. 2-seeded Iowa at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Nebraska 92, Illinois 74: Jaz Shelley poured in 32 points in just 29 minutes on 11-for-16 shooting as the No. 6-seeded Cornhuskers dashed the No. 14-seeded Illini’s upset hopes early. Nebraska scored 26 points in the first quarter and added 24 in each of the third and fourth periods. Shelley also dished out seven assists while Alexis Markowski delivered 22 points and nine rebounds for the ’Huskers. Next up, Nebraska gets No. 3-seed Michigan at approximately 9 p.m. Friday in the final quarterfinal of the day at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Nebraska defeated Michigan, 79-58, on Jan. 4 in the two teams’ only meeting of the season.
Horizon League men’s tournament
Northern Kentucky 77, Detroit Mercy 59: Seniors Antoine Davis and Kevin McAdoo combined for 36 points, but they couldn’t drag the No. 6-seeded Titans (14-15) to the Horizon semifinals in Indianapolis. Davis took 17 shots but made just five, including a 1-for-7 mark from 3-point range, en route to 17 points and McAdoo added 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting coming off the bench, but the rest of UDM’s roster went 9-for-26.
Wright State 75, Oakland 63: The Golden Grizzlies had four players – Jamal Cain, Jalen Moore, Micah Parrish and Trey Townsend – score in double figures, but that was it, as the rest of the roster went 0-for-5 as No. 5-seed OU (20-12) fell a game short of making the conference semifinals in Indianapolis. Oakland hit just three 3-pointers in 20 attempts against the No. 4-seeded Raiders.
Horizon League women’s tournament
Oakland 63, Youngstown State 52: The Golden Grizzlies are headed to Indianapolis for the Horizon semifinals, thanks to Kahlaijah Dean’s 18 points off the bench and starter Breanne Beatty’s 14 points and seven rebounds. OU, the No. 7 seed, will face No. 1 seed IUPUI on its home court at noon Monday. Oakland earned its trip to Indy with some hot shooting from downtown, hitting eight of its 17 shots from 3-point range; Beatty had three 3s, Dean had two, and Brianna Breedy chipped in two 3s to go with six assists and 10 points. Chelsea Olson led the No. 2-seeded Penguins with 18 points. The Golden Grizzlies (15-14) have never won the Horizon tourney, though they made the NCAA tournament in 2002 and 2006 by winning the Summit League. Now, they’re just two wins away from returning to the NCAAs as a Horizon member.