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No. 21 MSU women’s basketball earns 80-41 win over Detroit-Mercy

November 20, 2013
	<p>Freshman guard Tori Jankoska plays defense against University of Detroit guard Reyna Montgomery Nov. 20, 2013, at the Breslin. <span class="caps">MSU</span> defeated UofD 80-41. Margaux Forster/The State News</p>

Freshman guard Tori Jankoska plays defense against University of Detroit guard Reyna Montgomery Nov. 20, 2013, at the Breslin. MSU defeated UofD 80-41. Margaux Forster/The State News

The No. 21 MSU women’s basketball team had no trouble putting away Detroit-Mercy on Wednesday night as the Spartans rolled to an 80-41 victory.

The outstanding play of redshirt freshman Branndais Agee and senior guard Klarissa Bell, as well as a pair of double-digit runs were key in helping the Spartans (3-1 overall) secure the win against the Titans (1-4). It is MSU’s third straight win since losing to No. 6 Notre Dame last week to start the season.

After committing four fouls in only four minutes Sunday against Dayton, Agee played 23 minutes and recorded her first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. She also had three blocks.

“I was so frustrated with myself,” Agee said about Sunday’s performance. “I just knew I had to get my defense together, so after that game, I said I gotta look at some film, I gotta get in the gym and work on my defense so that’s what i did the past few days.”

Bell also contributed 16 points in possibly her best game of the season. She also recorded six rebounds, two assists and two steals. She went 4-for-5 from behind the arc to give MSU a boost.

Although she didn’t do too poorly in the previous three games, Bell said she finally felt relaxed.

“The past couple of three games … I was thinking a lot and not playing the game, and when I play I have nights like this, and when I think I have nights like I’ve had the past three games,” Bell said. “I wasn’t trying to run the offense as much, I think sometimes when I get myself in trouble is I’m so worried about running the offense and I’m wide open, by that time it’s too late.”

In Wednesday’s game, Detroit-Mercy guard Senee Shearer hit a 3-pointer to briefly tie the game at 11, but MSU started to pull away with 3-pointers by Bell, Agee, freshman Tori Jankoska and sophomore guard Cara Miller on four of the next six possessions to give MSU a 23-13 point lead.

With less than 10 minutes left in the half, MSU proceeded to go on a 13-0 run that included two free throws by Pickrel who was fouled flagrantly on a fast break layup. The Spartans got the ball back and Jankoska followed with another 3-pointer.

Detroit-Mercy guard Megan Hatter ended the run with a 3-pointer of her own.

The Spartans went into halftime with a 20-point lead against Titans, but came out just as hot and continued the domination against the Horizon League team. MSU held Detroit-Mercy to just 30 percent (15-51) shooting from the field and 20 percent (5-25) from behind the arc for the entire game.

In just the second possession of the half, redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers stole an inbound pass and was fouled on her quick layup attempt. She made one of her two free throws and followed to get two more steals on the following two possessions, which led to a layup and a foul.

Powers’ steals were key as the Spartans went on to a 15-0 run, which included a 3-pointer and layup by Bell.

After the game, MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said she was impressed with her defense as well as her team not fouling as much as they did against Dayton. MSU also forced Detroit-Mercy into 22 turnovers.

“I felt like it was kind of a little like Wisconsin’s men, where they would hold the clock all the way down to like 10 seconds or so before they’d look to take a shot just to try and keep the gap there,” Merchant said. “I give our kids credit, we were playing a lot of different combinations with different kids so I was happy to see our defense step up a little bit.”

Against Dayton, the Spartans fouled 26 times compared to only 12 times against Detroit-Mercy.

Along with Agee and Bell, Jankoska also reached double digit scoring. Jankoska finished with 12 points and is the only freshman in MSU history to score at least 10 points in her first four career games.

For the Titans, guard Ellisha Crosby finished with 13 points.

The Spartans next will play 7 p.m. Saturday against Rice at Breslin Center.

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