Michigan State women’s basketball was able to shake off a sluggish start and defeat in-state rival Eastern Michigan 85-50.
The first quarter was a tough one for the Spartans. MSU just could not seem to buy a bucket until one finally came around the halfway mark in the first period in the form of a put back by Nia Hollie. Even after breaking the lid on the basket, the Spartans continued to struggle and finished the first period shooting 3-17 from the field and 0-4 from beyond the arc.
The beginning of the second quarter was more of the same, except the Eagles found their groove. A fast break layup by Eagles RayJon Harris put the Eagles up by nine with 6:13 remaining in the second period — the Spartans were in trouble.
Then the fire was ignited.
With 5:01 remaining in the second quarter, the Spartans pressed to force an Eagles turnover that turned into a Nia Clouden three-pointer. Then yet another steal off the Spartan press turned into another three-pointer, this time from Tory Ozment, putting the Spartans within three points of Eastern Michigan.
The Breslin Center erupted.
This sequence was part of a 13-0 run that propelled the green and white into a 31-29 lead at halftime.
Senior guard Clouden was instrumental in getting MSU back into gear in the game. At half, she had more than half the team’s points with 16.
“We started really slow and we needed someone, or something, to get us going ... and I was tired of being so close with them. So I just got to my spots, took my shots and they went in, then everyone else picked up, too," Clouden said.
The third period was perhaps one of the most dominant in MSU basketball history. The Spartans outscored the Eagles 32-3 in the third quarter. Not only that, Eastern Michigan went the entire period without scoring one basket. The only points scored by EMU came from free throws. Eastern went without a bucket for ten minutes and 24 seconds.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant said she thought the way MSU was able to force turnovers was huge for their monster third quarter.
"We turned them over and offense led to defense and we made shots," Merchant said. "We had so many open looks."
The fourth quarter saw both teams trying to run out the clock with the game well in hand. However, the injury bug struck another Michigan State athletic team as junior Shay Colley came up limp on defense and could not put any weight on her left leg. Merchant said she was unsure what Colley's status would be going forward.
“The biggest thing is just to wait and see what happens. It didn’t sound major, but I didn’t get really a chance to get full details.” Merchant said.
Another huge contributor for MSU tonight was freshman guard Alyza Winston. Off the bench, Winston was able to score 14 points in only 12 minutes. The bench role was something the freshman said she had never had to experience before, but made the most of it.
“It motivated me a lot, sitting on the bench that long, because I never really went through that. Just getting in the game the right off the jump: 'I’ve got to make a difference, I’ve got to make something happen if want to be able to continue to play'.”
The Spartans will look to carry the momentum of tonight’s win in their next matchup Friday against Detroit Mercy.