INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kachine Alexander had 14 points and 10 rebounds, helping Iowa beat No. 25 Michigan State 59-54 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals on Saturday.
Kamille Wahlin added 13 points, and Jaime Printy and Trisha Nesbitt each scored 10 for the third-seeded Hawkeyes (19-12), who advanced to play No. 10 Ohio State in Sunday's championship game. Iowa last reached the tournament final nine years ago and won titles in 1997 and 2001.
Aisha Jefferson had 23 points for No. 2 seed Michigan State (22-9), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped. The Spartans were seeking their first finals berth since winning the tournament in 2005.
Iowa, which trailed 26-25 at halftime, opened a five-point lead twice in the second half, but the Hawkeyes failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities to open a bigger advantage. Iowa went scoreless for more than four minutes after taking a 42-37 lead midway through the half, allowing Michigan State to reel off seven straight points for a 44-42 edge.
The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before the Hawkeyes took control for good.
With the score tied at 52, Wahlin came off a screen and nailed a wide-open 3-pointer with 1 minute remaining. Kalisha Keane missed a 3 on the Spartans' ensuing possession, and Alexander hit a pair of free throws after missing a shot and chasing down her own rebound.
Michigan State cut it to 57-54 on Lykendra Johnson's layup with 12 seconds left, but Alexander hit two more free throws to seal the victory.
In a sloppy first half, which saw each team commit 14 turnovers, Iowa led by as many as seven points and the Spartans' biggest lead was two. The Hawkeyes opened a 17-11 advantage on Nesbitt's 3-pointer with 8 minutes left, but Michigan State scored the next seven points to take its first lead since 3-2. Keane's jumper gave the Spartans a one-point halftime edge.
Michigan State center Allyssa DeHaan, who didn't play in the second half of the team's quarterfinal win over Michigan due to back spasms, came off the bench and finished with two points, two rebounds and one block. The 6-foot-9 senior and reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year is the NCAA Division I career leader in blocks.