The Spartans hung on late to close out a win in their first road game of the Big Ten season Sunday evening, knocking off Illinois 79-75.
Though the up-and-down pace favored the high-scoring Illini for most of the game, the balanced scoring and defensive disposition of the MSU women’s basketball team prevailed in Champaigne, Ill.
Sophomore center Jasmine Hines led the charge with her first career double-double by scoring 18 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. Junior guard Klarissa Bell added 18 points and seven rebounds while senior forward Courtney Schiffauer had a double-double of her own with 11 points and 11 boards.
Unlike MSU’s first two Big Ten matchups, the Spartans were the ones enjoying a size advantage down low Sunday, which enabled Hines and Schiffauer to combine for 20 points and 12 rebounds in the second half.
Illinois’ star forward Karisma Penn, who averages 20 points per game, was primarily restricted to the bench in the first half with three fouls. Penn went on to foul out with 6:09 left in the game and finished with seven points and four rebounds.
For at least one more game, MSU’s streak of holding the opposition’s leading scorer under their average is alive. Illini guard Adrienne GodBold exploded for a career-high 28 points before fouling out as well. GodBold was playing in just her fifth game this season after being previously ruled academically ineligible.
After opening the game on an 8-0 run and stretching the lead to as many as 13 points, MSU went into halftime only leading by four, 40-36.
Illinois cut into the lead slowly throughout the second half before using an 8-0 run to take its first lead of the day, 55-54, with 9:39 left in the game.
The Spartans countered shortly after with a 13-0 run of their own to pull away throughout the next three-plus minutes. Four points from the charity stripe in the final 32 seconds by Bell and senior guard Jasmine Thomas put the game on ice for MSU.
MSU returns home this Thursday for a matchup against Iowa at 6 p.m.