The women’s basketball team defeated Illinois, 63-54, winning their first game without freshman Jasmine Lumpkin — who started in 14 of the 16 games this season — on Thursday night, breaking their five-game losing streak.
Lumpkin left the team for personal reasons.
“People hit the panic button, and we only have seven kids to play the game,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “(The players) are happy, but it wasn’t from relief. They knew it was going to happen eventually.”
Redshirt sophomore Aerial Powers not only led the team with overall points, but was also the game’s top scorer with 33 points, falling two points short to her career high of 35 points. Powers also had 11 rebounds, but sophomore Tori Jankoska and senior Becca Mills lead the team and the game with 12 rebounds.
“We had 29 turnovers, and that’s a little too much,” Jankoska said. “Once (Illinois) got within six or seven points (of our score), we’re like ‘we gotta stop them.’”
With a little under four seconds left in the second half, Powers fell to the side of the court but quickly got up, although she sat with Merchant and did not finish the last few seconds of the game.
“I get dehydrated… When I fell it just cramped right up,” Powers said.
Merchant though it was something much worse than a cramp, because Powers was holding near her knee.
“She said ‘I didn’t mean to scare you coach’ and I said ‘You scared the hell out of me,’” Merchant said.
The victory was also MSU’s first conference win this season. They now have a 9-8 overall record and are 1-5 in the Big Ten.
“(The win) gave us confidence. We just needed one win, so we started this thing called ‘U-turn’ at the Northwestern game (on Sunday) saying ‘we need to turn around,’” Powers said.
Starting and staying in the lead throughout the whole game, the Spartans were faster getting back on defense than the previous game against Northwestern.
Illinois’s record fell to 11-6 overall (2-3 in the Big Ten). Senior Brittany Carter lead the Fighting Illini with 19 points, and sophomore Jacqui Grant topped the team in rebounds, counting nine total.
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