After a stellar first week of her college basketball career, the Big Ten announced Monday redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
It was the first time an MSU player was awarded the conference’s Freshman of the Week since junior forward Becca Mills did so on Nov. 14, 2011.
Powers has been a spark to the MSU women’s basketball team in her first games in a Spartan uniform and led MSU to two wins in its first three games, including an overtime victory against then-No. 23 Dayton.
In the two wins, Powers averaged 21.5 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals.
Despite turning the ball over nine times against Dayton, Powers was critical in forcing the game into overtime, as well as leading MSU to the win. She hit a 7-foot floater with 10 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and force the extra period.
“I love her aggressiveness,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “Sometimes that can get her in trouble with decision-making, but she played so hard today.
“It was the best all-around game I’ve seen her play, even though she may have had more turnovers than she needed to have.”
Powers’ success comes just a year after being sidelined because of a torn Achilles tendon, which forced her to redshirt.
With only five games under her belt, preseason included, Powers still is prone to committing turnovers, but Powers said she tries to forget her mistakes and focus on the next play, something Merchant said Powers and freshman guard Tori Jankoska do well.
“Since the first game to now, I’ve literally been working on just remembering to forget the last play,” Powers said.
“The big thing with me, what made me do that better was last year … I tore my Achilles and this year I said, ‘You should be happy and appreciative to play, so you thinking about mistakes is you kind of being unappreciative … Last year, you weren’t even able to walk, and now you’re able to walk run (and) jump, so just appreciate it and do your best.”
Powers had 24 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals against Dayton. Her 24 points was tied for a team-high with Jankoska.
Powers’ and Jankoska’s 24 points were the most points a Spartan freshman has scored since April 5, 2008.
Powers also was one of three players in the Big Ten named to the Player of the Week honor roll.
“They’re gamers and that’s just how you have to assess what they do,” Merchant said of Powers and Jankoska. “They want the ball in their hands.”
Senior forward and co-captain Annalise Pickrel is third-leading scorer behind the two freshman, as well as the team’s leading rebounder.
Pickrel praised Powers’ ability to listen and follow, as well as lead the team during points in the game.
“My freshman year I certainly would not have been able to do that,” Pickrel said.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me and Klarissa (Bell), because it’s so hard to lead when people don’t follow.”
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