Winston’s 20 points not enough as Spartans upset by Indiana


Cassius Winston/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Sam Britten, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In a game that Michigan State had led nearly the entire way, they looked to the man that had been their leader all season. Cassius Winston got the inbound pass, scrambled for an open look, fired a fadeaway shot with three seconds left and…missed.  

Instead, Indiana got their second win of the season over MSU and dealt them a major blow in the Big Ten title race, as IU won 63-62.

“It’s a shame what happened today and we just kind of ran out of gas,” said Izzo. “[We] played good enough to be up 10 most of that game and I guess you’ve got to give them credit.”

After fending off No. 10 Michigan at the Crisler Center, the No. 6 Spartans had five full days to rest before taking on Indiana in Bloomington. The game was similar to the last time the two teams faced off exactly one month ago as it was a nailbiter that had fans squirming in their seats. The Spartans faced a few obstacles as Nick Ward is still out with a hairline fracture in his left hand and Matt McQuaid, though he did play most of the game, was still nursing a right ankle sprain.

It was a late three-point play from Juwan Morgan that was the difference late, as his putback layup while being fouled by Xavier Tillman tied the game, and his free throw with 1:46 left gave IU their first lead since the opening minute.

Winston led all Spartans with 20 points while assisting on 11 scores and grabbing five rebounds. Despite the team shooting 54.2 percent from the field, the Spartans struggled to rebound offensively and get second-chance opportunities, having five offensive rebounds to Indiana’s 15. He was asked if it would’ve been a better choice to not call a timeout and just go for the dagger on the last-second shot.

“Maybe,” said Winston. “I think I got a good look at it…I trust [Izzo] with any decision he makes in that situation.”

With the exception of the final four minutes, Michigan State showed up on defense, pressuring the Hoosiers to take shots behind the arc. Indiana has struggled with 3-point shooting this year, shooting 30.8 percent as a team. Today, they made nine of their 24 outside attempts.

Despite this, Justin Smith showed up when it mattered most. The sophomore forward who had made just four 3-pointers coming into the game made three in the first half to propel the Hoosiers later on in the game.

Promising freshman forward Aaron Henry started for the 12th time this year but has struggled to get shots to fall this year, today was no different. Henry shot 3-8 from the field and admits he passed up on some open looks.

“I’ve got to take them,” said Henry. “I can’t just pass the ball and wait on the shot clock to go down because you’re going to get a forced shot.”

Michigan State has gotten creative since losing Ward for what looks to be most of the final games this season. Thomas Kithier and Tillman have both seen an increase in minutes. With the young players showing promise, Matt McQuaid feels the “next man up mentality” is something that will help going down the stretch.

“We’ve gone through a lot this season with Josh going down first and then Nick,” said McQuaid. “So it’s kind of just had this ‘next man up mentality’ but as a unit, because you can’t replace either of them with one person, so I think those things are going to help us in the long run.”

A loss might hurt the Spartans, but they’ll have a few more opportunities to boost their resume before the start of the NCAA tournament. Michigan State will look to rebound from this loss on Tuesday as they host Nebraska before facing Michigan at home in their regular-season finale.