MSU women's basketball muscles past Rutgers, 59-48
As Big Ten season progresses for the MSU women’s basketball team, the standings are beginning to take shape and Tuesday’s win over Rutgers keeps MSU right in the thick of things.
The MSU basketball team wrapped up their two-game homestand on Tuesday evening, hosting Big Ten opponent Rutgers. The No. 18 Spartans (14-4 overall, 5-2 B1G) defeated the Scarlet Knights (12-6 overall, 3-4 B1G) by a final score of 59-48.
Tuesday’s contest was back-and-forth all game long with neither team’s offense looking dominant and was instead a battle of the defenses. Rutgers, however, did hold the lead for the majority of the first half, going into halftime with a slim 28-25 lead.
In the first half, MSU shot 33.3 percent from the field and made half of their shots from behind the arc. The Spartans had trouble keeping the ball, losing 10 turnovers in the first half and 15 in the game.
“Offensively we need to get into a better flow,” junior guard Tori Jankoska said. “We’re still trying to figure out where everyone is at and not moving the ball as much as we should be in the first half.”
The Scarlet Knights, who turned the ball over 17 times, also had trouble with turnovers, but the luxury of junior point guard Tyler Scaife carried them in the first half and through the game. Scaife shot 45 percent from the field and would finish with 24 points, three rebounds and four assists.
“She’s a very talented player, head coach Suzy Merchant said. “Her pull-up jumper is like a layup for her. I thought we did a very poor job guarding her throughout the game… but give her a lot of credit, she really put her team on her back and she made big shots and did a lot for her crew on the offensive end.”
Rutgers was dangerous from the paint, but icy cold from three-point range, as it finished the game 2 for 13 from beyond the arc for a 15.4 three-point rate.
After a much needed halftime break, MSU showed resiliency in the second half and eventually found their offensive stride.
“We were not ourselves it felt like out there,” junior guard Aerial Powers said. It was very dead out there. But I’m glad to see that we pulled it out, we started a lot tougher than we were in the first half so that helped us get the win pretty much.
The Spartans opened the second half with a five-point run to give them their first lead since the first quarter. MSU also took advantage of the 13 fouls called on Rutgers in the half, scoring 12 points alone from free throws.
The nail in the Scarlet Knights’ coffin would be the big 19-4 run by MSU in the fourth quarter. Jankoska started the offensive barrage with 7:47 left in the game with a layup and contributions from Aerial Powers, redshirt sophomore guard Branndais Agee and senior center Jasmine Hines ended it.
Powers finished with her seventh double-double of the season on Tuesday night and 41st of her career, scoring 18 points with 12 rebounds and one assist. Jankoska scored 15 points to go with her four rebounds and three assists.
The Spartans will take the next few days to recover until they go out to College Park to play first place Maryland (16-2 record, 5-1 B1G) on Saturday. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. and will be available for broadcast on the Big Ten Network.