MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mackenzie Holmes scored 27 points and Sara Scalia added 20 as second-ranked and top-seeded Indiana overcame a slow start to hold off Michigan State 94-85 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.
Chloe Moore-McNeil had 19 points and 11 assists for the Hoosiers (27-2), while Yarden Garzon added 12 points and five rebounds.
“Obviously we’re not proud of how we came out in that first half,” said Holmes, whose team missed seven of its first eight shots and trailed by as much as 12 points in the second quarter. “But the fact that we were able to kind of weather the storm a little bit and keep our foot on the pedal, keep chipping away at the hole we dug ourselves, was really special.
“That’s not going to fly down the stretch here in this Big Ten Tournament. So we’ve got to learn from it, and we’ve got to be better. But I think it’s a special thing that we were able to come back from something like that.”
Indiana will play 14th-ranked Ohio State in the semifinals on Saturday. The Buckeyes, who have the No. 4 seed, beat Michigan 81-79 on Friday.
Kamaria McDaniel pumped in a season-high 32 points for ninth-seeded Michigan State (16-14). DeeDee Hagemann had 18 points and four assists, while Moira Joiner added 16 points and nine boards.
“We were getting stops, and that was helping with momentum,” McDaniel said. “So when you’re playing good defense and your teammates are getting you the ball, I’m just able to kind of be myself and be that scorer that I’ve been.”
The Spartans handed Indiana one of its two losses this season, and early on they seemed poised to take down the Hoosiers again.
Michigan State hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, including a pair by McDaniel, who scored 10 as the Spartans took a 24-14 lead through the first 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, after Holmes converted a layup on their opening possession, the Hoosiers went more than seven minutes without a field goal. They missed seven straight shots before a Scalia 3-pointer ended the drought.
“We did dig ourselves a little bit of a hole there, but I did anticipate us getting going,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “I didn’t think it would take till halftime or after halftime.”
Trailing by six to start the third quarter, Indiana finally got its inside-outside game working. Garzon opened the half with a 3-pointer, Holmes scored seven points in the paint, and Scalia hit a 3 to tie the game 49-49.
Garzon then hit another 3-pointer with 3:55 left in the third quarter to give the Hoosiers their first lead since the game’s opening minute.
“This is a balanced team,” Moren said. “If (Holmes) is being doubled, which we anticipate she’s always going to be doubled, then other people have to step up. … We’ve seen it throughout the entire year, I think, with just different pieces stepping up and providing scoring for us.”
McDaniel wouldn’t let the game get away from the Spartans, however. She quickly hit consecutive jumpers to restore the Michigan State lead. McDaniel added three more points down the stretch as Indiana took a one-point edge into the fourth.
Sydney Parrish opened the final frame with two straight 3-pointers and the Hoosiers kept Michigan State at arm’s length the rest of the way. Moore-McNeil hit 9 of 10 free throws over the final 45 seconds to seal it.
Top-seeded Indiana is coming off its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years and looking for its second conference tournament title, having last won it in 2002.
The Spartans advanced to the quarterfinals with a 67-64 victory over eighth-seeded Nebraska on Wednesday. Hagemann scored a team-high 18 in the win.
Now, they’re left hoping the NCAA Tournament selection committee looks past their record and considers how the Spartans fared in the rugged Big Ten when the tournament field is decided.
“This team is so good. We’ve been very close against top tier teams, Indiana, Iowa in an overtime game, on and on I could go,” acting head coach Dean Lockwood said. “I just really believe this team is worthy and could make a good showing, but that’s going to be out of our hands.”
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