Tuesday, January 25, 2022

MSU women's basketball slated to make a run in Big Ten tournament

March 3, 2016
Head coach Suzy Merchant reacts to a play during the second half of the game against Iowa on Jan. 16, 2016 at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 80-73.
Head coach Suzy Merchant reacts to a play during the second half of the game against Iowa on Jan. 16, 2016 at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 80-73. —
Photo by Carly Geraci | and Carly Geraci The State News

MSU's triple-overtime win last Saturday over No. 5 Ohio State University was possibly one of the most thrilling ways to cap off the regular season. The win against the Buckeyes personified the team’s resilience they’ve shown all season long.

Now that the regular season has come to an end for the No. 19-ranked Spartans, they will turn their focus to get ready for the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Following the win on Saturday, MSU improved their record to 22-7 overall and 13-4 in the Big Ten. Their 13-4 record is good enough for third in the conference, only trailing No. 6 ranked Maryland (27-3 overall, 16-2) and No. 5 Ohio State (23-6, 15-3). The third place seeding gives MSU a two-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which will help keep them fresh and well-rested headed into play.

Spartans will play 6-seeded Purdue

The No. 3-seeded Spartans will play sixth-placed Purdue University (10-8 Big Ten record). The Spartans won their only meeting with the Boilermakers 68-56 in January.

MSU hold the advantage in scoring offense with 77.4 points per game over Purdue. In scoring defense, the Spartans are fourth in the conference giving up on average 64.5 points per game while Purdue has a better ranking, being third in the conference and holding opponents to 62.0 points per game. MSU ranks third in the conference with a plus-12.9 scoring margin, holding the edge of Purdue.

Offensive consistency is key

Two of MSU’s three losses in February came in back-to-back fashion against Penn State and Nebraska, and both had worse conference records than the Spartans. In the loss against the Nittany Lions, sophomore guard Branndais Agee turned the ball over seven times and was limited to only five points in 34 minutes. Agee has been the perfect compliment to junior guards Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska and her performance is going to be essential to MSU’s success in the tournament.

Another key to MSU’s offensive game plan is Jankoska. The five-foot-eight guard was only held to three points in 35 minutes against Nebraska when the Spartans squared off against the Cornhuskers on Valentine’s Day. This season Jankoska is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.3 points a game and shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from behind the arc in 29 games.

Of course if the Spartans want a shot at the Big Ten title, they are going to need their offensive captain Powers to keep playing the way she played in February. Powers has put together another historic season for the Spartans, going 42.6 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from 3-point land this season. Her average of 21.9 points per game ranks fourth best in the Big Ten and 11th in the country. In the month of February, Powers averaged 26.2 points a game in nine games, including a 40-point barrage against Minnesota. The guard is also shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 34 percent from the field in February.

When the Big Ten Tournament starts

The Spartans will wait until Friday to play their first game in the tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Tip off for MSU is slated for 25 minutes after the conclusion of the 6:30 p.m. game earlier that day and can be caught on BTN.

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