Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Michigan State crushes Illinois in home dominance

January 24, 2019
Freshman guard Nia Clouden (24) shoots the ball during the women's basketball game against Illinois at Breslin Center on Jan. 24, 2019. Michigan State defeated Illinois 77-60. Nic Antaya/The State News
Freshman guard Nia Clouden (24) shoots the ball during the women's basketball game against Illinois at Breslin Center on Jan. 24, 2019. Michigan State defeated Illinois 77-60. Nic Antaya/The State News —
Photo by Nic Antaya | The State News

The Spartans (14-5, 4-4 Big Ten) defeated the Fighting Illini (9-10, 1-10 Big Ten) 77-60, extending their home winning streak to 11-0. 

The first half was a three point show for the Spartans starting with one from Sidney Cooks that started the game off. Jenna Allen and Victoria “Coco” Gaines contributed with one each and Taryn McCutcheon had a pair. The Spartans lead 22-9 at the end of the first quarter. 

The Spartans would enter halftime with the nine point lead, 39-30. 

“I thought it (the performance) was a little bit spotty in the second quarter,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “There was a lot of things our team did pretty well.” 

MSU shot 47.1 percent from behind the arch and 48.4 percent from the field. McCutcheon and Allen lead the Spartans at the half with nine points each and six and two rebounds respectively. Cierra Rice lead Illinois with nine points followed by Arieal Scott with six points and four rebounds. 

Five Spartans had three pointers in the first half, Claire Hendrickson, Gaines and Allen all had one, Cooks had two and McCutcheon had three. 

The second half was a battle in the trenches. For Illinois, J-Naya Ephraim fouled out and Alex Wittinger had four fouls and Ali Andrews had three. Nia Clouden had four and Gaines had three. The Spartans started to run away late in the third quarter and out scored Illinois 20-13 in the fourth. 

Five Spartans were in double digits, led by Allen, Colley and McCutcheon with 14 points, Gaines had 11 and Cooks had 12. The Spartans shot 47.5 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from behind the arch. The Spartans also had 25 assists on 28 buckets, with Nia Clouden having 11 of them. 

“That just shows how great of a team we can be because when we’re playing like that, I mean Nia Clouden had 11 assists, that’s awesome,” McCutcheon said. "This team is very unselfish and it shows because I don’t think (Clouden) cared that she didn’t score.” 

Illinois was lead by Brandi Beasley with 15 points and Cierra Rice with 10. Illinois shot 36.4 percent from the field and 35 percent from the arch. 

Michigan State will travel to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines, their toughest road test of the season, on 2 p.m. on Jan. 27. 

“We’ve been in a slump lately for away games but we already have it in our heads that we’re not losing to Michigan," Gaines said about the deep-seeded in-state rivalry. “If that means we come back with one arm, there’s no way we’re losing to Michigan.”


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