By Jerome Bingham
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – The game was over, and then it wasn’t. Tyra Buss, the greatest scorer in Indiana women’s basketball history, had held her head in her hands after an apparent overtime loss to Michigan State. “I thought we had lost,” she said. But the officials ruled that the clock had stopped, the basket was nullified, and the game would go on, and on, and on.
In the longest game in Big Ten tournament history – women or men – Indiana outlasted Michigan State, 111-109, to advance to a quarterfinal meeting with Maryland.
Indiana, 17-13, had lost nine of its previous 10 Big Ten tournament games. Senior forward Amanda Cahill led the Hoosiers with a career-high 38 points, the fourth-highest single-game total in Indiana women’s basketball history. Her pair of free throws with three seconds to go in the fourth overtime became the difference.
Cahill’s total of 38 points tied for the second-most in the history of the tournament. Cahill moved into sixth place in Indiana history with a career total of 1,784 points. Buss scored 24 points in 60 minutes to extend her school record to 2,228 points. This was the 47th time in Buss’ career that she scored 20 or more points.
The score was tied 16 times. The lead changed 14 times. Indiana set tournament records with its total of 111 points and 43 field goals. Four Indiana players played 56 minutes or more: Buss (60), Cahill (60), freshman guard Jaelynn Penn (59) and freshman guard Bendu Yeaney (56).
The Spartans, 17-13, were led by sophomore guard Shay Colley, who scored 27 points on 10-of-28 shooting in 48 minutes despite a knee injury. It was Colley’s hurried shot at the end of the first overtime that appeared to beat the buzzer, end the game and start a Spartan celebration.
But after a video review, the officials ruled that the clock had temporarily stopped earlier in the possession with 2.5 seconds to play. “A couple of my teammates were saying, ‘The clock stopped, the clock stopped,’” Cahill remembered. “And I think all of us were like, ‘Are you sure?’ Just kind of like sending up prayers and really hoping. We were trying to read the ref’s lips and see what he was trying to say, but it was pretty fortunate.”
At long last, after the officials met with the coaches, the pumped fist from Indiana coach Teri Moren offered confirmation. The ruling was no basket. The game would go on. “The ball was released prior to the expiration of time,” referee Michael McConnell told a pool reporter, “but we felt like we had a problem with the clock…We determined, with a stopwatch, from the time the ball was touched inbounds with 7.7 (seconds) on the clock, using a stopwatch, we got to at least eight seconds, probably 8.7. So there was at least one second, the ball was still in (Colley’s) hand well past 7.7, so we determined that the field goal was no good.”
Michigan State led by as many as four points in the second overtime, but a layup by Cahill tied the score at 91-91. A layup by Yeaney with 18 seconds to go in the third overtime tied the score at 99-99, and when Colley missed a shot with three seconds to play the game went on to a fourth overtime.
There were three ties and five lead changes in the fourth overtime. Colley committed her fifth foul with 3:50 to go. Michigan State led, 107-106 after a jumper by Lexi Gussert with 1:04 to go. But Buss made a 3-point shot, her second in nine attempts all night, for a 109-107 lead.
Victoria Gaines made two foul shots with 20 seconds to play to tie the score. But Cahill’s free throws with three seconds left became the difference.
“My teammates believed in me,” Buss said of her late 3-pointer. “I just stepped up and made that shot and it went in. It got us some energy and was a really big shot for us.”