FINAL: MSU women's basketball bounce back with win over Minnesota
In the second to last regular season game at the Breslin Center, MSU women’s basketball came out strong to defeat the University of Minnesota. In their second matchup against the Gophers this season, the end result was similar to the 93-74 win on Jan. 30. After some trouble in the first half, MSU regained its confidence and momentum and used it in the remaining of the second half. In head coach Suzy Merchant’s second game back, the Spartans (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten) put together a win, 85-69.
The Spartans and Gophers (14-13, 5-9 Big Ten) were head-to-head in the first quarter with MSU only leading by one point, 20-19. A problem for MSU was Minnesota getting to the free-throw line often. Junior center Jessie Edwards caused three different Spartans to foul her, putting her at charity stripe enough to make an impact. The center was 6-for-6 from the line with four rebounds at the half.
Freshman forward Taiye Bello and senior forward Whitney Tinjum were 3-for-4 on the free-throw line, along with Bryanna Fernstrom who was 2-for-2. The Gophers as a team in the first half were 14-for-18.
At the end of the second quarter, the Spartans had 15 total rebounds, two offensive and 13 defensive. MSU only had five players get rebound during the half while the Gophers had 10 players with at least one rebound. Senior guard Tori Jankoska and redshirt-freshman forward Victoria Gaines led the Spartans at the half with four rebounds. Minnesota’s Tinjum led the court with seven in total, five of those being defensive.
MSU delivered 10 unanswered points to the Gophers at the end of the quarter which allowed the Spartans to close the deficit and lead by two, 37-35.
The momentum from redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee’s 3-pointer five seconds left in the second quarter carried over to the rest of the game. In the first minutes of the third MSU went on a 9-0 run against the Gophers. In the fourth quarter the Spartans outscored Minnesota by 10 points, 24-14. MSU had the biggest lead of the game with 22 points over the Gophers with 4:07 left to play.
The Spartans were still outrebounded with their total being 37 while the Gophers had 39. Jankoska had 10 defensive rebounds and Gaines 10 as well, three offensive and seven defensive to carry the team to 30.
In one of their final regular home games, the seniors took over the last two quarters. Agee was knocking down 3-pointers throughout the half, she was 5-for-5 beyond the arc in the second half. With three games left to play in the regular season Agee reached a new career-high of 30 points, she also had seven rebounds and two assists.
The all-time leading scorer, Jankoska, recorded her first career triple-double against the Gophers. Jankoska scoring 24 points pairing 10 assists and 10 rebounds to have the first one in program history since former MSU women's basketball player, Kristin Haynie in 2005. The senior also made six 3-pointers throughout the game to match her senior teammate Agee.
MSU will face rival University of Michigan on Feb. 19. Their final home game will be next Wednesday, Feb. 22 against Penn State.