Sunday afternoon showcased a packed Breslin Center with pink all-around the court as women's basketball hosted No. 21 Michigan in the annual pink game. The Spartans ended their six game losing streak by defeating the Wolverines, 66-61.
Earlier in the season the Wolverines crushed the Spartans in Ann Arbor, but the Spartans got revenge this afternoon. MSU now improves to 15-11 on the season and 5-8 in the Big Ten.
The Spartans started off strong in the first quarter, outscoring the Wolverines, 21-11. The team forced eight turnovers, which led to 12 easy buckets.
MSU held a comfortable 10 point lead heading into the fourth, but in less than a minute the Wolverines hit back to back 3-pointers that made it look like MSU was about to collapse. However, midway through the fourth there was about a four minute scoring drought where neither teamed failed to score.
Costly fouls and turnovers lead to the Wolverines cutting the lead to three with under a minute remaining. The Wolverines had the ball with an opportunity to tie it, but strong defensive efforts by the Spartans led to a shot clock violation. Redshirt sophomore Victoria Gaines would go on to hit two clutch free throws and seal the victory.
It was a scrappy defensive effort for the Spartans as the team forced the Wolverines to 23 turnovers, which would result in 27 points.
Senior forward Lexi Gussert provided a huge spark in her first 30 minute game since Dec. 6. Gussert had a team-high 14 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists in possibly her final matchup ever as a Spartan against Michigan.
“It was a fun game certainly to be a part of and the tone was set with Lexi,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I don’t think anyone bleeds green more than Lexi Gussert. She’s a Spartan through and through and it was kind of nice to see her set the tone especially early.”
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon became just the 15th Spartan women’s basketball player to reach 300 career assists on Sunday. McCutcheon finished with eight points and five assists and surpassed Spartan graduate assistant coach Kalisha Keane in career assists.
“It really does mean a lot because that’s one of my goals coming in as a Spartan,” McCutcheon said. “But you can’t get assists with people that can’t shoot. So that goes out to my teammates for making shots.”
The Spartans continue their four-game homestand against the University of Nebraska this Wednesday at 7 p.m.