The 2016-2017 MSU women's basketball team held its first and only exhibition game of the season at the Breslin Center Sunday. There, the Spartans defeated the Timberwolves by a final score of 82-47.
The team hosted Northwood University as the Spartans featured a fresh squad after all-time leading-scorer Aerial Powers declared for the WNBA following last season.
Plenty of familiar faces graced the Spartans' first game of the season, as Powers including several players from the men's basketball team were in attendance. Head coach of the MSU hockey team, Tom Anastos, could be seen as well.
MSU's starting five featured three seniors in guards Tori Jankoska and Branndais Agee along with graduate transfer forward Taya Reimer. Head coach Suzy Merchant also incorporated her team's youth, as forwards Jenna Allen and Marderkia Cook were part of the mix.
In the early going, it was all Northwood as they raced off to a 9-0 start less than three minutes into the first quarter. The Timberwolves utilized a mix of solid ball movement while capitalizing on the Spartans' two quick turnovers.
With MSU facing a sizable deficit, the team leaned on its senior guard, Jankoska. The second-leading scorer from last season connected on back-to-back three-pointers. The Spartans used the quick offense to take the lead by the end of the first quarter, 16-15.
The home team came out red-hot out of the break as it went on a 9-0 run. During the Spartan run, freshman Taryn McCutcheon made her collegiate debut known after a layup and a three-pointer. By halftime, the 5-foot-5 guard had contributed five points to go along with her five assists.
Northwood was led by Lindsay Orwat, who scored a team-leading 11 points while also grabbing five rebounds.
Ever since the 9-0 Timberwolves lead, MSU went on a 36-13 run to close the half, 36-22.
MSU kept the lead starting off the second, but not without some resistance. After a couple of three-pointers and a score, Northwood was on an 8-0 run to creep back into the game. But the Spartans continued their pressure and the Timberwolves weren't able to muster up a larger comeback effort.
A collision happened in the second half; Northwood's Jordyn Nurenberg and MSU's Allen collided into each other, leaving both athletes on the floor, hurt. A bit of blood was spilled on both sides, but the two walked into the tunnel under their own power. Allen returned to the bench by the end of the game.
For the fourth quarter, the Spartans kept the pressure on, putting the match away as they tried out their sets. The freshman, McCutcheon, chipped in eight points and 10 assists, just a couple points away from a double-double. Jankoska also added 23 points after she shot 5-of-8 from the 3-point line.
The Spartans will be back in action, Nov. 11, when they kick off the regular season against Davidson College for a 7 p.m. tipoff.