Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Women's basketball defeats Oakland in pre-Thanksgiving matchup, 79-64

November 26, 2014

A dominant game from sophomore forward Aerial Powers helped the Spartans defeat Oakland, 79-64, at Breslin Center on the eve of Thanksgiving. 

Powers finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds for her fourth double double in as many games. Sophomore guard Tori Jankoska added 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, and senior guard Anna Morrissey and senior center Jasmine Hines also reached double figures.

Head coach Suzy Merchant credited offensive drills in practice for the balanced scoring effort, adding that they realized they wouldn't be very successful if they continued to rely on Jankoska and Powers, who have carried the Spartans offensively this season.

"I think it gave (the team) the confidence that they can do it," Merchant said. "If you can do it in practice, you should be able to do it in a game."

Powers said having other players emerge as scoring options opens the game up for everyone, and that the drills helped. 

"We had to have other people become aggressive, and it really showed today," Powers said. "We almost had five people in double figures. So that drill really helped us."

MSU came out firing early, but a 3-pointer by Oakland junior forward Olivia Nash trimmed MSU's lead to 11-9 at the 16:01 mark in the first half. 

A pair of free throws by junior guard Elena Popkey gave Oakland the lead with 13:28 to play, but Hines found her way in the paint for a layup to retake the lead on the next possession. 

Jankoska found the bottom of the net on consecutive possessions to push the lead to nine. First, she knocked down a point-blank 3-pointer following a pass from Powers. Next, she stole the ball from Oakland and found Mills in transition, who nearly lost the ball before giving it back to Jankoska, who took it to the rim to give MSU a 26-17 lead. 

A behind-the-back transition pass by Jankoska to Powers made it a double-digit lead with 6:47 to play.

"I heard her yelling behind me, she's like 'Tori, oop! Throw it up T! Throw it up, T!,' Jankoska said. "And we had been working on that a little bit in practice in warmups and stuff. She was in front of me, so it was like 'nope.' It ain't gonna work.

"It was the most open option, I guess. It wasn't getting there any other way."

The sophomore duo continued to own the first half. MSU took a 32-19 lead after Powers was blocked at the rim, collected her own rebound and layed it back in with over four minutes left. 

A step-back 3-pointer by Powers gave MSU its largest lead of the half, 39-21, with 1:56 remaining.

Oakland briefly trimmed the lead back to single digits early in the second half, but three free throws from Jankoska and a 3-pointer by Morrissey re-gave the Spartans control of the game.

Jankoska found Miller under the rim with 12:37 on the clock to give the Spartans a 20-point lead with 12:37 left on the clock.

Hines created an easy layup opportunity when she bumped Nash under the rim, who fell after receiving contact, to maintain a 20 point lead for the Spartans with 7:13 to play. 

A touchdown pass from Miller lead to a transition layup for Powers at the 4:41 mark, capping off a night of dominance for MSU.

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