EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Thanks to Ashley Barlow, Notre Dame withstood a tough test on the road.
Barlow scored 18 points and hit a tiebreaking free throw with 10 seconds left, lifting the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) to a 68-67 victory over No. 21 Michigan State on Thursday night.
The Spartans had a chance to win after Barlow's late foul shot, but Aisha Jefferson missed a jumper from the lane with 4 seconds to go.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wasn't happy with ill-timed turnovers, sketchy shot selection and occasional lapses on defense. But she liked her team's character at crunch time.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping our poise down the stretch," McGraw said.
Allyssa DeHaan led Michigan State (1-2) with 20 points.
Michigan State trailed 45-35 when DeHaan, a 6-foot-9 senior, limped off the court with an apparent ankle injury early in the second half. The Spartans, sparked by their defense and forcing turnovers, went on a 15-2 tear immediately afterward to grab a 50-47 lead with 11:52 remaining.
DeHaan returned and increased Michigan State's lead to 56-51 with a basket with about 10 minutes to go.
"She showed a lot of heart to come back," coach Suzy Merchant said.
But the Irish (2-0) regained the lead with an 8-0 run capped by Erica Williamson's layup with 8:41 left.
Michigan State tied the score at 67 on a free throw by Porsche Poole with 55 seconds left.
A foul by Michigan State after a missed free throw by the Irish put Notre Dame in the double bonus. Barlow missed her first free throw with 10 seconds left, but sank her second opportunity to put the Irish in front.
"I was confident I was going to make the first one, and it didn't go in," Barlow said. "But I didn't hang my head."
Lindsay Schrader had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Notre Dame.
Lykendra Johnson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Michigan State.
Michigan State started the season ranked 10th in The Associated Press poll. The Spartans fell after losing their season opener at Dayton.
Michigan State bounced back to win at Detroit on Sunday. But on Tuesday, the Spartans lost sophomore forward Courtney Schiffauer for the season with a right knee injury sustained in practice.
Schiffauer started one of the first two games this season for the Spartans, leading the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounds (7.5 per game).
Notre Dame opened its season Sunday with a 102-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.