McQuaid’s late shot the difference in Big Ten quarterfinal

Top-seeded Michigan State survived a late run from Wisconsin to win their first game of the Big Ten tournament, surviving a game-tying attempt at the buzzer to hold on, 63-60. The Badgers will likely now miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years, as MSU now awaits the winner of Michigan and Nebraska on Saturday in their quest for a No. 1 seed in the national tournament.

MSU was paced by the two sophomores that have been crucial to their success all year, as Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston combined for 37 of MSU’s 63 points on the afternoon. Foul trouble for freshman forward Jaren Jackson Jr. left junior guard Matt McQuaid on the court with under two minutes remaining. It was the Texan’s 3-pointer with 1:29 remaining that stretched MSU’s lead to five, and after Wisconsin guard Brad Davison cut the lead to three with 32 seconds left, his heave as time expired was well short thanks to excellent defense from Tum Tum Nairn Jr.

Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ led all scorers with 22 points, but Bridges paced MSU with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting. The forward’s efforts helped MSU make the Big Ten semifinals for the first time since 2016 after missing out last year.

“I wasn’t trying to take bad shots, I was trying to get to the basket more,” Bridges told Big Ten Network following the game. “We’re just worrying about basketball, we stick together.”

The Spartans led by four at halftime thanks to a 8-0 run to end the half, capped off by a Winston 3-pointer. Winston collected five rebounds and five assists to go with his 17 points, but the sophomore guard was just 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

The Badgers were the ninth seed in the conference tournament, but their slow style of play meant the Spartans were never likely to blow them out of the water, as they had at home in their first meeting of the year. Instead, the game in New York much more closely resembled the game the teams played nearly a week ago in Madison.

MSU held a lead for most of the second half, and despite committing 11 turnovers, the Spartans held on down the stretch as both teams had opportunities on the offensive glass. Adequate defensive play from Xavier Tillman on Happ, combined with the timely shot from McQuaid down the stretch, were enough for the Spartans to get the job done in a performance that may not have been worthy of a championship, at least yet.

MSU now awaits the winner of the Huskers and Wolverines back in Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. Make sure to follow @WDBM_Sports for live coverage from the Big Apple.