Ohio State earned a hard-fought road win on Wednesday night, topping Michigan State 77-70 in East Lansing, in a game that could prove meaningful as the Buckeyes play out the final 10 days of the regular season.
Graduate transfer Carmen Grande scored 17 points for the Buckeyes, including a go-ahead three-pointer with 2:26 to go that gave her 1,000 points for her career. Freshman Janai Crooms made 7 of 8 shots from the field to reach 20 points, her second-highest output.
The Buckeyes (13-12, 9-7) became the first team to defeat the Spartans (17-9, 7-8) at home this season, and they kept themselves in position for a chance to finish in the top four in the Big Ten. If they can, they will receive a two-day bye at the conference tournament, which begins March 6 in Indianapolis.
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Ohio State currently sits in fifth place. After a game Thursday at Wisconsin (13-14, 4-11), they close the season at home March 3 against one of the teams ahead of them, Rutgers (18-8, 10-5).
The win over the Spartans is second straight impressive road win for the Buckeyes, who defeated the Scarlet Knights by 20 points on Feb. 14, but until the final minute, neither Ohio State nor Michigan State led by more than six points.
Jenna Allen gave the Spartans a 66-65 lead on a layup with 2:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that was their final field goal of the game — and the last time they led. Grande and Dorka Juhasz (10 points) sandwiched three-pointers around a free throw by Michigan State's Nia Clouden for a 71-67 lead with 1:58 to go.
In the final 40 seconds, Ohio State went 6 of 8 from the free throw line while Michigan State missed five three-point attempts.
Carly Santoro had 15 points and Aaliyah Patty 13 points and six rebounds for the Buckeyes. Senior Makayla Waterman, who missed two games because of a knee injury, came off the bench and grabbed six rebounds in 19 minutes.
Grande, a transfer from Ball State, stands at 1,007 career points for Ohio State, which led by three at halftime and trailed by two after the third quarter.
Clouden had 23 points and Shay Colley 18 to pace the Spartans. The win gave the Buckeyes a regular-season sweep after winning 65-55 on Jan. 14 when Michigan State was ranked No. 17.