The Rutgers Lady Scarlet Knights (15-3, 5-2) hadn’t held a lead since a 6-5 margin, when they blazed their way back from a 12-point deficit in the second half. It looked like Michigan State women's basketball would fall to 2-9 on the road. But rallying back with a 9-0 run, the Spartans (11-7, 4-3) found a way to secure the road win, 66-55.
With 8:24 left in the fourth quarter, Rutgers senior guard Arella Guirantes worked her way into the paint for a layup, putting the Scarlet Knights up by two and her 28th point of the game.
Giving up a 12-point lead, it looked like the Spartans had ran out of gas, but with seven minutes left sophomore forward Kayla Belles pulled down an offensive board.
Belles went back up with the ball, willing in a layup.
Knotting the game up, sophomore guard Nia Clouden was determined not to fall behind again. Clouden went up and under for two layups in the next two possessions.
Only 3:23 remained when Clouden drove the ball again. Rutgers expected another up and under — Clouden knew that. She kicked the ball out to the left corner where freshman guard Moira Joiner was waiting as she had been all night.
She sunk it.
Her three solidified a 9-0 run and lit up the green and white bench as they played with momentum and energy.
The Spartans didn’t relinquish the lead.
Allowing just four points in the fourth quarter and pushing past a 14-turnover performance, Joiner, Clouden and senior guard Taryn McCutcheon were able to put the game away at the free-throw line as time expired.
Riding a career-high 20-point night for Joiner, shooting 5-of-6 from behind the arc and a career-high 13 rebounds for Belles, the Spartans secured a victory in enemy territory, just their third away win of the season.
Clouden finished with a key 14 points, six assists for the second game in a row and five rebounds.
Pushing themselves back over .500 in the Big Ten, the Spartans added a marquee victory to their resume against a 15-win Rutgers roster.
The Spartans travel back home for their meeting with Northwestern on Thursday, Jan 23., where they will try to extend their win-streak to three and stay perfect at the Breslin Center.
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