Final: No. 17 MSU women's basketball upset at Breslin Center by Penn State, 65-61
MSU women’s basketball team’s (18-6 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) offense was colder on the court than it was outside Thursday night. The Spartans were stunned by their opponents, the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-15 overall, 4-9 B1G), and dropped their sixth game of the season, by a final score of 65-61.
The matchup looked like a cake walk at first, as the Spartans opened the game on an 8-0 run spanning just over five minutes long. Penn State broke their offensive drought after senior guard Brianna Banks put Penn State on the board.
As the first half progressed, Penn State would find their offensive stride and it became a very back-and-forth game in the first half.
With the first half winding down, forwards Kennedy Johnson and Jenna Allen and junior guard Tori Jankoska would each hit jumpers in rapid succession to widen MSU’s lead and make the score 31-22. But freshman guard Teniya Page hit three field goals in a row for Penn State to make the score 33-28 before halftime.
Page led the Nittany Lions in points in the first half, with nine. She went 4-8 from the floor, and 1-1 from field goal range.
MSU also started the second half with a big run like it did in the first half, going on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter, with help from guards Aerial Powers, Branndais Agee and Jankoska. Nevertheless, Penn State would go on a 12-4 run to make the score 50-44 by the end of the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions dialed in throughout the fourth quarter and thwarted the Spartan’s offense. Penn State would start the fourth on an 8-0 run over MSU to take their first lead of the evening on a Candice Agee jumper. MSU would regain and hold the lead until Page hit two in a row with less than a minute to play to give PSU all they would need. 21 of Penn State’s 65 points came in the fourth quarter.
"We get through the whole warrior week thing and we get to this game, which is a game we should win and we just don't come out and play." Jankoska said, "We didn't come out and compete like we should have and it kind of teaches us a lesson."
Page would finish the contest as Penn State’s leading scorer with 20 points, four assists and three rebounds. The freshman guard was 8-16 from the floor and played all 40 minutes of Thursday’s contest.
"(Page) hit some good shots that we tested," Powers said. "We didn't contest a lot of her shots to the ability that we know we can, but she did well scoring too."
The Spartans would see offensive contributions from many bench players, but Penn State did a great job at checking MSU’s secret offensive weapons Branndais Agee and senior center Jasmine Hines. Agee would finish the contest shooting 2-12 from the floor and 1-5 from three. Agee also turned the ball over seven times.
"We need people that can make our outside shots to make them," head coach Suzy Merchant said. "It's all mental. Branndais (Agee) had been shooting really well, she had a tough night and I thought for the first time affected her ability to do other things. She turned it over, wasn't focused defensively... normally she's a little bit better.
And although Powers fouled out of Thursday’s contest, she grew closer to breaking another school record with her seventh double-double of the season. The performance on Thursday gave Powers her 42nd career double-double. She is now one shy of the the current record held by Mary Kay Itnyre.
The loss on Thursday will only add to the chaos in the Big Ten standings, as the top three teams' records only differentiate by three games. Following this loss to Penn State, MSU is in jeopardy of falling to a third-place tie with Minnesota, which is currently fourth in the Big Ten standings.
The Spartans will do the best that they can to look past the loss and get ready for a two-game road trip against Nebraska and Rutgers. MSU’s next game against Nebraska (16-8 overall, 7-6 B1G) is scheduled on Sunday with tip off set for 4 p.m. The game will be televised on BTN.