MSU rallies back from 13-point halftime deficit, stuns Iowa 80-73
A frigid Saturday afternoon in East Lansing led to a packed Breslin Center, where the No. 18-ranked MSU women’s basketball team hosted Big Ten opponent Iowa, in which they rallied back from a 13-point halftime deficit to top the Hawkeyes by a final score of 80-73.
MSU (13-4 record, 4-2 Big Ten) started Saturday’s contest neck-and-neck with the Hawkeyes (13-5, 3-3 Big Ten), but Iowa would break things open in the second quarter.
Iowa shot a white-hot 60 percent from the field in the first half, including 75 percent from behind the arc. The Hawkeyes would at one point make six consecutive field goals, and would go on to a 19-4 run before halftime.
The Hawkeyes found help in sophomore guard Whitney Jennings who had nine points, one assist and one rebound; freshman guard Tania Davis who had nine points, two assists and two rebounds, and senior forward Kali Peschel with eight points one assist and three rebounds.
MSU on the other hand shot an icy 25 percent field goal rate in the first half, including 20 percent from three. Branndais Agee was the only Spartan with over five points in the half, with seven, along with four assists.
The Spartans were 2-for-14 in field goal opportunities in the leading minutes before halftime, but with two seconds left in the first half, Agee made a three-pointer that would stick with the team for the remainder of the game.
“It was really big, because our confidence was down,” junior guard Aerial Powers said. “It felt like nothing was going our way and for her to hit that shot… that kind of helped us a little bit and the talk in the locker room really got us going.”
The Spartans had work to do in the second half, but were eager to claw their way back into the contest. MSU started the second half on an 11-2 run, and continued to play well. By the end of the third, MSU had cut Iowa’s lead down to one and trailed by a score of 47-46.
The Spartans overpowered the Hawkeyes early in the fourth quarter, starting off with a 12-0 run to establish their first lead in the game since early in the first quarter. MSU’s comeback was a combination of the heroics of junior guards Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska. Powers had 23 points on the day and also finished with three assists and seven rebounds. Jankoska finished with 18 points, three assists and five rebounds.
“They hadn’t played well the last couple of games offensively,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “For (Aerial) to be able to pull herself up that’s kind of what great players do, she didn’t settle, she really attacked. We kept telling her to drive the ball and she’s virtually unguardable in those situations.”
Two more Spartans finished with double-digit points including redshirt sophomore point guard Branndais Agee, who had 14 points, one assist and seven rebounds. Senior center Jasmine Hines finished with 13 points, one assist and six rebounds.
Saturday’s come-from-behind win was big for MSU, who dropped its previous game to Indiana and fell into a three-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten.
“We knew in that Indiana game we didn’t have enough energy,” Agee said. “And we didn’t pick up defensively, that’s where we feed off to get our offense going. We knew in this game we had to bring energy, defense and that’s what was going to get us going.”
MSU will take a few days off before returning back to action on Tuesday when they host Rutgers (12-5, 3-2 Big Ten), who was also tied for fourth in the Big Ten. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.