By Laura Vázquez David | @lauravazquezpr
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS – Michigan State senior Nia Clouden scored 23 points, including 10 of 11 foul shots, to lead the Spartans to a 73-69 victory over Purdue in the second round of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday.
Eighth-seeded Michigan State (15-14) advanced to a quarterfinal game against top-seeded Ohio State on Friday. The quarterfinal appearance will be the 18th in 20 years for the Spartans.
Clouden, who had scored a season-low seven points against Purdue, had her 16th game with at least 20 points.
Alisia Smith, a 6-3 forward, scored 15 points for Michigan State. Taiyier Parks, a 6-3 junior, scored 12 with nine rebounds. Tamara Farquhar, a 6-foot forward, scored nine points and nine rebounds.
Michigan State made 19 of 26 free throws, including nine of 13 in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans outscored Purdue in the paint, 34-18.
Purdue (16-14) was led by sophomore Madison Layden, who scored 17 points, three shy of her single-game career high. Junior Abbey Ellis also scored 17 points, her fourth straight game scoring in double digits.
Three of Michigan State’s starters, including Clouden and Farquhar, had to overcome foul trouble. “We just had to be really smart,” Farquhar said, “….It was hard playing with fouls but at the end of day, it’s the end of the season and you have to be able to play through things like that.”
Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant credited her team’s victory to its fight. Merchant recalled that she said to her team, “Regardless of what’s going to happen give great energy and effort. Don’t worry about outcome, focus on playing hard.”
The last time the Spartans went against the Buckeyes was on February 27 at Michigan State, a 61-55 Ohio State victory. The last time Michigan State met Ohio State at the Big Ten Tournament, the Spartans won 82-63 to advance to the 2016 Championship game.
Michigan State’s work in the paint will be crucial during Friday’s matchup. In conference play, Michigan State ranked fourth in rebounds with a margin of 1.3, while Ohio State ranked tenth with a margin of minus-2.1.