Powers breaks school record as No. 25 MSU snaps losing streak against Rutgers, 70-67
Coming into Thursday evening’s game against Rutgers, the No. 25-ranked MSU women’s basketball team was in dire need to snap their two-game losing skid and get back on track before the end of the regular season. The Spartans’ (19-7 overall, 10-4 overall) misfortunes ended with a victory against the Scarlet Knights (16-11 overall, 7-8 conference) by a final score of 70-67.
MSU’s offense was few and far between in the first half, especially in the opening quarter. The Spartans didn’t get on the board until there was 2:08 left in the first and by that point Rutgers started the game on a 13-2 run. By the end of the first quarter, MSU would trail Rutgers 17-4.
MSU’s offense had some work to do before halftime and were up to the task. The Spartans would chip away at Rutgers’ lead and would take a 26-25 lead with 3:06 left in the half, thanks to a layup by sophomore guard Branndais Agee. Rutgers would quickly retake the lead on an 8-0 run that led into halftime, with the Scarlet Knights leading the Spartans by a score of 33-25.
The Spartans combined for 22.2 percent shooting in the first half. Junior guard Aerial Powers was 1-for-11 from field-goal range in the first half, but made all eight of her free throws to finish the half with 10 of MSU’s 25 points. Junior guard Tori Jankoska shot 3-for-12 from the floor, including 0-3 from behind the arc.
Rutgers started another offensive barrage to start the second half, going on a 10-3 run to establish a 14-point lead, the Scarlet Knights' largest of the night. By the end of the third, MSU only trailed by nine and were in striking distance.
MSU’s key to success against Rutgers was 29 fourth quarter points. The Spartans were finally able to take the lead against Rutgers after they made a flurry of free throws late in the game. A free throw by Powers gave MSU a 66-65 lead with 27 seconds left in regulation. Powers finished the contest with 27 points and 14 rebounds, with 15 of her points coming from the free-throw line. Powers’ double-double was her eighth of the season and 43 of her career, which ties the school record set by Mary Kay Itnyre from 1977-1980.
The Spartans have struggled offensively as of late, with key players like Jankoska (10 points and seven rebounds) and Agee (12 points, six rebounds) struggling from the floor. In their last three games, the two have combined for 20-for-71 shooting, a .282 shooting percentage. Luckily for the Spartans, bench contributions from sophomore guard Lexi Gussert (eight points, one rebound) and sophomore forward Kennedy Johnson (11 points and five rebounds) helped propel MSU past Rutgers.
The win on Thursday against Rutgers snapped MSU’s season-high two game losing streak. The Spartans are now in the midst of a three place tie for third in the Big Ten, with Minnesota and Indiana also in the thick of things.
The Spartans take a few days rest and look forward to another big game, this time at home on Sunday against Minnesota. Tip off is set for 1 p.m. and will be televised on BTN.