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FINAL: MSU women's basketball powers back in comeback on Senior Day

February 22, 2017
Junior guard and forward Lexi Gussert (24) goes for a lay up during the women's basketball game against Pennsylvania State University on Feb. 22, 2017 at Breslin Center. The Spartans trailed the Nittany Lions at the half, 40-26.
Junior guard and forward Lexi Gussert (24) goes for a lay up during the women's basketball game against Pennsylvania State University on Feb. 22, 2017 at Breslin Center. The Spartans trailed the Nittany Lions at the half, 40-26. —
Photo by Nic Antaya | and Nic Antaya The State News

In the last home game of the season, MSU women’s basketball faced Penn State University at the Breslin Center. Coming off of an important win against rival University of Michigan, the Spartans looked different starting the game. MSU struggled early on, as Penn State had the lead from the beginning of the game. But the Spartans came back from being down 19 at one point for a win on Senior Day, 73-64.

MSU was having a hard time on the court when it came to its shooting and rebounding. Penn State scored the first basket of the game only six seconds in, and from there the lead grew to 17 points with 3:42 left in the first half, 36-19. The Nittany Lions were dominantly present on defense, running effective screens that were tough for MSU to break through.

The Nittany Lions in the first quarter shot 66.7 percent, but struggled in the second, shooting 37.5 percent to end the first half at 51.6 percent.

MSU was only 10-for-31 with a field goal percentage of 32.3 percent in the first half. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee led the Spartans at the end of the half with seven points, graduate student forward Taya Reimer was right her behind with six points. However, all-time leading scorer Tori Jankoska was scoreless during the half. Jankoska was 0-for-6 beyond the arc, but she wasn’t completely off the box score as she had five rebounds. 

Penn State finished the half with 21 rebounds. The two leading scorers of the two quarters also led in rebounds for the team. Senior guard Sierra Moore and sophomore guard Teniya Page each scored 13 points with five rebounds.

The Spartans came out shooting out of the halftime break, going on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit.

MSU finally had its first lead of the night with 8:43 left to play in the fourth, with a layup from junior forward Kennedy Johnson. The Spartan defense also came alive during the last half, shots Penn State easily made during the first and second quarter, were all being heavily contested by MSU.

MSU was still having trouble containing the quick Nittany Lions offense throughout the game. They ran the same play three or four times and the end result was the same, points.

It was a close game with four minutes left to play, but with smart and pressing defense from Reimer and Johnson and consistent points from Jankoska, it allowed the Spartans to hold on. 

MSU came back from a field goal percentage of 32.3 percent to finish the game 47.4 percent. Penn State was the exact opposite, with an obvious decline for their field goal percentage, ending the night only shooting 38.3 percent.

Off of the bench, Johnson made her presence known with 12 points. Johnson was a perfect 6-for-6 in her 17 minutes on the court with one rebound and assist.

Reimer was the second-leading scorer of the night with 13 points, five rebounds and one assist. Before Jankoska started her stream of scoring Reimer was leading the team on the court. She finished the night 5-for-11, and 3-for-5 from the free-throw line.

In her final night playing at the Breslin, Jankoska had a rollercoaster ride of a game. From being scoreless in the complete first half, to finishing the night with 21 points. From the free-throw line the senior was 10-for-12, leading MSU in that category as well. She also collected a double-double with her 12 rebounds accompanied by three assists.

MSU finished its time at the Breslin 11-3, and is currently 9-6 in Big Ten play. The Spartans will finish out conference play on the road against the University of Nebraska on Feb. 26. After the game against the Cornhuskers, the Spartans will be playing in the Big Ten Tournament which will be starting on March 1.

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