Michigan State women’s basketball (12-12, 5-8) will close out their homestand against Minnesota (15-10, 5-9) in the only regular season matchup between the two teams.
With a 57-53 comeback win over Rutgers on Thursday that electrified the Breslin Center, the Spartans are back to .500 overall, and energized for the rest of the regular season.
Senior Taryn McCutcheon said that that victory, amid adversity, meant more than others.
"It feels good to win, doesn't it?" she said. "I don't remember the last time that I've lost that many games in a row. And I think that everybody kind of felt like that."
As the regular season winds to a close, the Spartans have shown that they can win with a younger core despite nagging injuries and inconsistent shooting.
Sophomore Nia Clouden led the underclassmen in scoring with 10 points, but it was freshman Moira Joiner's shooting down the stretch and much-needed production from sophomores Kayla Belles and Tory Ozment that enabled the Spartans to complete the comeback.
Michigan State will look to replicate their most balanced offensive attack in weeks against a Minnesota team that ranks in the bottom half of the Big Ten in all defensive categories.
Losers of two straight, Minnesota is led by senior Taiye Bello, averaging nearly a double-double with 12.3 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game to lead the Golden Gophers in both categories.
The Golden Gophers’ lost sophomore, Destiny Pitts, their leading scorer at the time, when she announced her decision to transfer on Jan. 16. Since then, Minnesota has struggled to a 4-5 record as freshman Jasmine Powell has become a consistent starter in an attempt to replace Pitts’ production.
Freshman Sara Scalia and and redshirt junior Gadiva Hubbard's success shooting from the arc has powered Minnesota to become the second best three-point shooting team in the Big Ten, trailing only Iowa. The Golden Gophers are currently shooting 36.5% from three as a team, compared to the Spartans' 32.1%.
Minnesota has not won at the Breslin Center since 2009, but are currently the holders of a 6-4 record on the road. With only five games left in the regular season, every game is a must-win for the Spartans if they want to bolster their resume for a potential NCAA tournament appearance.
Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Breslin Center.
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