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MSU women's basketball upsets Purdue, 89-73

February 2, 2014
	<p>Redshirt freshman guard Branndais Agee reacts after she knocks down a purdue player Feb. 2, 2014 in a game against Purdue at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Boilermakers 89-73. Erin Hampton/The State News</p>

Redshirt freshman guard Branndais Agee reacts after she knocks down a purdue player Feb. 2, 2014 in a game against Purdue at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Boilermakers 89-73. Erin Hampton/The State News

Photo by Erin Hampton | The State News

Head coach Suzy Merchant wouldn’t go as far as to call it a return to form, but Sunday’s upset win over No. 19 Purdue is surely a step in the right direction.

Five Spartans reached double figures in the 89-73 rout over the Boilermakers, led by redshirt freshman Aerial Powers who had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

The true difference-maker for MSU (15-7 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) was junior center Jasmine Hines, who scored a season-high 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. Hines entered the game early after junior forward Becca Mills picked up two quick fouls in the first few minutes.

Purdue (15-7 overall, 5-5 Big Ten) had no answer for Hines in the paint, as she converted eight of her 13 shot attempts and provided easy opportunities inside for a trigger-happy MSU team. Her post presence kept the offense moving and led to more high-percentage buckets. The Spartans had 50 points in the paint for the game.

“She let the game come to her,” said Merchant. “Just nice to see her become the player we know she can be. I had a conversation with her the other day. It’s one thing to have the opportunity, it’s another thing to do something to get it. I thought she was spectacular for us today, they just did not have the answer.”

Purdue redshirt sophomore guard KK Houser, who left the game in the second half with what Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said could possibly be an ACL tear, had 17 points for Purdue. Redshirt junior forward Whitney Bays led all scorers with 22 points, and she also had six rebounds.

Overcoming a slow start, the Spartans played with great energy for most of the game, outscoring Purdue 50-35 in the second half. Purdue led MSU 16-9 with 13 minutes left in the first half, but MSU responded with great intensity, forcing turnovers and converting on transition opportunities.

“We were having fun out there,” said Merchant. “Things were going our way a little bit. It was nice to see us struggle a little bit, go through some foul trouble. Different people have to step up and it felt good to not have to grind out some of the kids who play so many minutes for us and spread that around.”

On one play, Jankoska passed it from halfcourt to Bell under the rim, who laid it in. Redshirt freshman guard Branndais Agee spun to the rim on another play, giving MSU a 19-18 lead with under 10 minutes to play.

“We started off a little slow, and thankfully we picked it up with our transition game,” said freshman guard Tori Jankoska, who scored 15 points, dished six assists and grabbed six rebounds. “That’s what got us going. We got a few transition buckets and we were still within four. Then that got our energy up with our defense. Transition is where we need to be”

Just like the first half, Mills picked up a quick foul within the first two minutes of the second half and sat for Hines. On cue, Hines established herself inside, working her way under the rim and laying it in to give MSU a 43-40 lead. Jankoska’s circus layup on the next play and two free throws by Powers pushed the lead to seven.

An 8-0 run pushed the lead to 67-51 with 9:22 on the clock.

Things only worsened for Purdue when Houser left the game with about five minutes remaining with an injury.

Coaches had to help her off the court, and it appeared she couldn’t put pressure on her left leg.

With 2:26 left in the game, Powers drained two free throws to put MSU’s lead back at 17, 86-69. With a minute left, Bell drained a 3 as the shot clock expired to push the lead to 18, sealing the blow-out win.

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