Freshmen and three pointers were the stars of the game as the No. 19 Spartans beat Canisius 102-54 in their first ever meeting Thursday night.
The top three scores for MSU were freshmen as guard Aerial Power led the way with 19 points, while guard Tori Jankoska scored 17 and guard Branndais Agee added 14.
MSU lived from beyond the arch as nearly half their shots from the floor were from long range.
Senior forward Annalise Pickrel was perfect from 3-point land, and said that the 81-62 loss to No. 6 Notre Dame midweek had some impact on the Spartans’ offensive explosion.
After allowing Canisius to stay relatively close through the first five minutes of the game, MSU turned on the jets, and went on a 10 point run led by Pickrel and senior guard Klarissa Bell.
“It was frustrating last games not being able to score, for everybody,” Pickrel said. “This game, being able to take it to these payers and just kind of work on our drives and get into the paint in that second half (was good).”
Midway through the first, junior forward Becca Mills went down awkwardly on her ankle and gingerly walked to the locker room. She returned a few minutes later.
Mills didn’t score in the first half, but had 11 points in the second, and was a key player in the 30 margin of points in the paint between the Spartans and Golden Griffins.
“We were knocking down a lot of shots and got a little over excited,” Merchant said. “A focal point for us is that (Mills) does a better job at posting, and we do a better job of recognizing that she’s open. She’s worked really hard for the last two years on her post moves and being a scorer down there for us.”
MSU came out of the locker room slow, and allowed the Golden Griffins to hit a pair of 3-pointers right out of the gate.
The Spartans then went on a 9-0 run to stretch the lead to 45, but Canisius got hot and went on a 10-1 run of their own.
“First half, (Merchant) was pretty pleased with the way we were playing defense,” Jankoska said. “Second half, she was really disappointed in how we were playing defense.”
When junior guard Anna Morrissey hit a 3-point basket late in the game, eight Spartans connected on shots from long range.
They finished the night 63.8 percent from the floor and 52.2 from 3-point range.
MSU has now won 14 of their last 15 home openers, and 34-8 all-time in the first game of the year at Breslin Center.
The next time they’ll see the court is at 2 p.m. Sunday when they host Dayton.
Last year, the Flyers ended the Spartans eight game winning streak with a 60-53 win in Ohio.
“Last year was a really close game,” Pickrel said. “Defensively we’re going to have to not play like we did tonight against Dayton. Going into this game everyone is really pumped and there’s a target on their back from last year.”
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