Taking Michigan State to overtime Saturday night, the Buccaneers dropped an 83-74 decision at Brooks Gym.
As time expired in regulation, Tianna Tarter missed a floater in the lane that would have given the Bucs the win — but the game was going to overtime tied at 66.
The Spartans salted the game away with numerous trips to the foul line. They outscored ETSU 17-8 in the extra period.
The Big Ten Conference Spartans improved to 7-3 while the Bucs slipped to 6-7 on the season.
Tarter totaled 16 points, eight assists, seven steals and six rebounds on the evening. Also for ETSU, Britney Snowden had 16 points to go with 10 rebounds while Alayjah Sherer scored a career-high 15.
Sidney Cooks and Jenna Allen both had 16 points for Michigan State. Taryn McCutcheon supplied a double-double consisting of 12 points and 10 assists.
The first quarter ended on a bad note for the Bucs as the Spartans went on a quick 6-0 run off a 3-pointer and then a steal at mid-court. Michigan State led 24-15 at the end of the period.
The Spartans had an early advantage on rebounds, 12-10, but the Bucs did manage to pull own four offensive boards while Michigan State got none.
Sherer matched her career high with 13 first-half points and was one of ETSU’s major contributors early on. She was the only player for both teams that produced double-digit points before intermission.
Tarter made the last bucket of the half on a stop-and-pop shot from about 16 feet away to trim the Michigan State lead to 36-34.
The Spartans shot a blazing 56 percent in the first half (14-25) while the Bucs shot only 34 percent (13-38).
Retaking the lead
The Bucs took their first lead (44-43) since early in the opening stanza with 5:10 left in the third quarter. It was short-lived, though, as the Spartans quickly came down the floor and scored to take the one-point advantage back.
The Bucs again retook the lead and stretched their advantage out to four points at 51-47 with just over a minute left in the third.
ETSU led at the end of the third, 52-49.
The lead would exchange hands four times in the early stages of the final quarter. The fourth was shaping up to boil down to the final possession.
The Spartans went up 62-58 and got a steal at mid-court on the next sequence, but could not cash in. This was a moment that changed the momentum for the Bucs as Tarter went down the court and drew a foul. She made the free throws and the Bucs were within two points.
ETSU regained the upper hand with a minute and a half to go at 65-64 and, suddenly, Brooks Gym came alive with loud screams cheering on the defense.
“That was one of the most physical ball games in my time at ETSU,” ETSU coach Brittney Ezell. “Our kids are tough. The schedule we’ve played, the way we’ve competed, we have been in every game we’ve played. I thought our program was going to get over the hump tonight, but it didn’t happen. We’re getting there. It’s a process.”
Key team stats
ETSU had 16 steals on the night, but only four in the second half.
Michigan State took advantage of the big size differential with 15 blocked shots.
ETSU shot 34 percent on the night while Michigan State remained hot throughout, shooting 53 percent.