It wasn’t an easy win, but a win nonetheless.
Despite trailing for most of the first half, the No. 21 women’s basketball team (5-1 overall) overcame Temple’s stifling defense and increased its winning streak to five games by defeating the Owls (3-1) 74-70 in Philadelphia, Pa.
Freshman guard Tori Jankoska had her first career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Annalise Pickrel added 18 points and five rebounds.
The Spartans were held to 38.9 percent shooting and a dreadful 18.8 percent on threes. However, they were helped by 29-36 shooting from the line and a 42-30 rebounding advantage.
Temple had control of the game early and often, jumping to a 11-4 lead before head coach Suzy Merchant called a timeout with 15:00 minutes on the clock. MSU responded with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 14-14 after a two free throws by Jankoska.
After a few lead changes, the Owls regained control for the rest of the half. Two free throws by Feyonda Fitzgerald gave Temple a 34-28 lead, and senior guard Klarissa Bell missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Junior forward Becca Mills drained a three with 17:42 left in the second half to tie the score at 35-35. Junior guard Kiana Johnson drained two free throws a couple minutes later to give the Spartans their first lead since leading 16-15 with 9:22 left in the first half.
MSU held the lead until 11 and a half minutes left, when Temple’s Natasha Thames hit a layup to give the Owls a 49-47 lead. Temple got the lead back, 53-51, with 10 minutes left when Tyonna Williams made a layup. It would be Temple’s last lead of the night.
The Spartans gained the lead back when Jankoska was fouled and hit both free throws to tie the game, 53-53. She hit a layup on the next offensive play, and Bell made another layup to give the Spartans a 57-53 lead and spur a Temple timeout.
With 5:10 on the clock, Williams drained a 3 to tie the score at 64-64. Jankoska then got fouled and went to the line to give MSU a 66-64 lead. Pickrel then split an opportunity at the line to make it a three-point lead, 67-64.
On the next defensive play, Pickrel blocked Temple’s Shi-Heria Shipp under the rim to preserve the three-point lead. But Williams was later fouled to cut MSU’s lead to one, 67-66.
Once again, Jankoska came through. Her defender bit on a pump, and she stepped to the left and drained it to push the lead back to three, 69-66. Johnson split at the line with just over a minute left to make it 70-66. Temple called a timeout.
With time on the clock dwindling, Fitzgerald shot a three to trim the lead, but the shot went wide. Johnson was intentionally fouled on the next possession to stop the clock, and she drained both to give MSU a 72-66 lead.
A few more fouls went back and forth to stop the clock, but it was too late. MSU held the Owls off to win, 74-70.
Madison Williams leaves game with injury
Just a game after making her first game appearance in two years, junior center Madison Williams left the game midway through the first half with an apparent injury. Merchant said she had no updates on her status during a post radio interview. Williams will be examined once the team returns to East Lansing.
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