MSU women's basketball opens home Big Ten play with win over Wisconsin, 77-67
On a Sunday afternoon where the weather was tame and the festivities from an extended holiday weekend were coming to an end, a crowded Breslin Center watched the MSU women’s basketball team (10-3 record, 1-1 in the Big Ten) take on the Wisconsin Badgers (5-7, 1-1 in the Big Ten) in which MSU won by a final score of 77-67.
The Spartans rang in the new year in exciting style with their first win of 2016. It was a back-and-forth contest for much of the first half before the Spartans went on a 12-5 run to give themselves a 31-23 lead. MSU ended the first half on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 39-24.
MSU was able to rebound after their close loss to Ohio State on New Year’s Eve.
“In this league you need to have a short-term memory,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I don’t think our energy is where it needed to be, but our kids knew what they needed to do, some of those vets knew what they needed to do to get the victory and that’s a positive.”
MSU received contributions from their bench in the first half with help from freshman forward Jenna Allen (4 points, 2 rebounds) and the starters. The Spartans shot 48.4 percent from the field, including a 27.3 rate from behind the arc.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, relied heavily on two of their players, junior forward Avyanna Young (7 points and 5 rebounds) and sophomore point guard Cayla McMorris (9 points and 3 rebounds). The Badgers made 35.7 percent of their total shots, including 28.6 percent of their threes.
The Spartans tried to break it open throughout the second half, but Wisconsin refused to go away. MSU’s led for the entirety of the second half, but the Badgers kept nagging until they cut MSU’s lead to 7 points with about three minutes left in the game.
MSU would need the heroics of juniors Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska. Powers had her fourth double-double of the season, finishing the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Jankoska finished Sunday’s contest with 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. The Spartans also enjoyed the offensive help of fifth-year senior center Jasmine Hines who finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds.
The Spartans played a relatively clean game, limiting themselves to 15 turnovers and 16 fouls, each of which troubled MSU in their loss to OSU (21 turnovers and 30 fouls).
“I think turnovers have really been hurting us this year,” Hines said. “That and our decision making which has been leading to turnovers. But when we control that and we make good decisions it’s hard to stop us.”
The Spartans showed grit and durability in Sunday’s contest against the Badgers. MSU’s starting five played 157 minutes out of the 200 in regulation.
“I think the minutes are okay for me,” redshirt sophomore and point guard Branndais Agee said. “It’s not like I’m playing 40 minutes a game… you just keep icing and recovering and I’ll be good.”
The Spartans will take a few days off before heading out to Illinois on Thursday to take on No. 14 ranked Northwestern (11-2 record, 0-1 in Big Ten play). The time for tip off is still to be determined.