The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes (23-6, 15-3 B1G), second in the Big Ten conference, made the trip to East Lansing, MI, to face off against the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans (22-7, 13-5 B1G), third in the Big Ten.
Saturday’s matchup was the last regular season game for both teams before the Big Ten conference tournament starts next week.
And the Spartans were able to send their seniors out of Breslin with one final, hard-fought, nail-biting, action-packed win–in three overtimes (which has not happened since 1991), no less. A final score of 107-105 was not reached without a roller coaster of a game in which neither team had a lead that reached double digits.
“Quite a game,” Merchant said. “A little hard on the ticker.”
“We made a lot of hustle plays,” Hines said. “In all the huddles we were just like, ‘grind it out, five more minutes’, then we went in another overtime…’five more minutes’…another overtime…’we can just pull this one out’…and then we did.”
A layup by Hines to start, and then a three-pointer by Wooden Award candidate Aerial Powers put MSU up 5-0 within the first minute and a half of tipoff.
OSU roared back, taking a 19-13 lead with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
Moments later, Branndais Agee subbed in, got two quick baskets, and helped MSU finish the quarter only down 20-17.
Morgan Green started the second quarter off with a mid-range jumper, but the rest of the quarter was much of the same, a low-scoring battle.
Both teams combined to shoot 11-for-36 in the second and 3-for-10 from three-point land, resulting in a 34-34 tie at the half.
OSU was able to double team Powers and play physical enough defense to limit her productivity. Powers ended the first half 1-for-11 from the field, not making a single shot after her basket to start the game.
Ohio State’s full court press was only effective enough to slow down MSU’s backcourt, leaving Hines able to thrive with the lack of bodies in the paint. Hines scored 17 of MSU’s 34 first half points while grabbing six rebounds.
“Jasmine (Hines) was a beast,” Powers said. “I’ve never seen her play so amazing, it didn’t matter if they were fouling her. She was asking for the ball and we were giving it to her. She just dominated.”
MSU seized the momentum to start the second half, getting out to a 46-40 lead.
Jankoska finally got her shot to fall and took over the third quarter, scoring 11 points (4-for-5 FG, 1-for-1 3PT). MSU led 67-65 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was a low point for MSU’s offense, shooting 4-of-13 from the field and only totaling 15 points, six of which were free throws.
A relatively uneventful quarter ended, but not without an Aerial Powers fade-away attempt in the corner that just missed at the buzzer. The two teams were tied once again at 72 as the clock hit 0:00.
Heading into overtime, it looked like neither team had a distinct advantage. That trend continued through one overtime. Both teams scored 11 points and the game rolled on.
It was deja vu in the second overtime, with both teams scoring 11 points. But this overtime brought a little more drama, thanks to Tori Jankoska on a broken play.
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“Aerial Powers is actually the one that called the play,” Jankoska said. “It did not work out…at all. So, I just went and got the ball, saw an opening, and took it – felt good right when it left my hands.”
The third overtime was back-and-forth, each team realizing how much this win could mean heading into the postseason. There was likely more at stake for OSU, who was trying to secure a B1G regular season title on MSU’s home court.
“I think they [MSU] knew what was at stake for Ohio State,” Merchant said. “I’m proud of our kids, proud of the fight, and happy to see us move forward and get that key win at home.”
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell did all she could (48 total points), but she finally slowed down 50 minutes into the game, going 2-for-5 in the final overtime.
Aerial Powers’ rough game (as rough as a double-double game can be) was capped off by a crucial turnover when she attempted to go up for a breakaway layup with 24 seconds left in the final overtime.
“I just lost it,” Powers said. “I ended up just checking to see if someone was behind me. I should’ve not even thought about that. Things happen and you just got to let it go.”
Jankoska was able to get to the line four times in the final 39 seconds, making three of four to seal the win…the one miss being on purpose with two seconds left.
“This is why you play,” Jankoska said. “These are the moments you play for. I just put it up nice and soft – it was a good feeling.”
Michigan State’s stars, Jankoska and Powers, clearly struggled to find consistent success – combining for 12 points in the three overtime periods. Comparably, Jasmine Hines finished her career day with 15 points in the final 15 minutes.
Normally, when a team’s top two scorers struggle, the entire team struggles. That has been the case for MSU all season. But Jasmine Hines has not taken over a game like she did Saturday.
The grad student from Central Lake, MI was unstoppable in the paint. 36 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. All while committing no turnovers. Not much more you can ask from your fifth-year center.
“A double-double with 36 (points)?” Merchant said. “That kid [Hines] couldn’t score 36 points her entire freshman year. To see her growth and development, I’m just really proud of her.”
Now, the Spartans will be riding a four-game winning streak into Indianapolis. MSU already secured a top-four seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, but a little extra momentum has never hurt.
“(The win) definitely gives us some confidence,” Jankoska said. “Defensively and offensively as well.”
The next game for MSU will be on Friday, March 4. Assuming the Spartans are the third seed in the tournament, they will be in the last game played Friday night. The Big Ten Network will have live coverage of every game.
- Powers now has 10 double-doubles this season
- Hines has three double-doubles, with her career-high in scoring
- MSU forced 25 turnovers, compared to 18 of their own
- MSU finished with seven blocks and 15 steals
- OSU shot 14-of-35 from three-point range, while MSU was 5-for-18