Michigan State women's basketball moved to 2-0 on the season as they warded off a pesky Detroit Mercy (0-3) squad, winning 82-45 at the Breslin Wednesday night. The win was sealed with a solid team effort highlighted with 26 assists on 32 made baskets.
Junior forward Tory Ozment got things going for the green and white on both ends of the floor in the first quarter. Taking advantage of Detroit Mercy’s 2-3 zone, Ozment hit two open corner threes to start things off for the MSU offense. Ozment would continue to give a valiant effort on the defensive end of the floor jumping for loose balls and hauling rebounds, including one where she sparked a three on a fastbreak off the rebound for an easy basket from junior guard Nia Clouden in transition.
The Titans would keep it close on the backs of their 3-point shooting as Michigan State led 21-17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Spartans began to separate in the second quarter by picking apart the Titan’s 2-3 zone. MSU sophomore forward Taiyier Parks was able to carve out some space for easy baskets as well as grab offensive rebounds for easy baskets underneath. The Spartans would finish the first half with 14 offensive rebounds.
Merchant was pleased with her young center's play on the night.
"I thought she (Parks) did a really good job," Merchant said. "She's a physical player number one, that's the one thing about Taiyier, you don't have to talk to her about seeking contact. I think she's somebody who really enjoys that part."
Clouden finished off the first half with a pair of three pointers that capped off a 10-0 run for the Spartans as they took a 36-24 lead into halftime.
Parks continued her strong effort into the second half starting with back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 16.
The Titans wouldn’t go away though. Halfway through the third quarter, they were able to go on a 8-0 run to cut the Spartans' lead down to 12.
Ozment would once again step up on both ends of the floor, including five quick points to end the third quarter by finishing baskets in transition to put the Spartans up 22 at the end of the third.
The Spartans put the game on cruise control in the fourth quarter as 10 players saw the court on the day and pushed the lead beyond the Titans' reach.
Offensive rebounds were the name of the game for Michigan State as they ended the day with 19.
"For us, there were a handful of rebounds to be had, especially early," Merchant said. "I was happy for us to get in there and really keep the ball up and give us another possession."
The assists were also a huge factor for the Spartans, as they were in their last game, as well as the limited turnovers even against the Titans' 2-3 zone.
"Obviously, we want to share the ball but the second piece to this is we just have to learn how to take care of the basketball a little bit and value it," Merchant said. "This was a good game to have to handle that because of the random trapping came at different places, corners, wings and short corners."
The Spartans were also able to force turnovers at a high rate in this one as the Titans finished with a staggering 25 turnovers on the night, a tough number to overcome despite a valiant effort.
Detroit Mercy's top scorer on the season, junior guard Kaela Webb, was also held in check as she shot 2-16 and was held to just 4 points on the night.
Parks would finish the game with 12 points and 8 rebounds on the night.
"She's coming along," Merchant said. "She's still young as a sophomore in minutes played wise. She came off the bench last year so now she's in a bit of a different role and it's fun to see her development."
Clouden was the leading scorer for the Spartans, finishing with 15. Ozment also finished her all around performance with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
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"Tory's really been playing well," Merchant said. "She's someone that's really committed to competing at a high level and is in real good condition and shape. She's just a versatile player for us."
Alyza Winston also made her season debut for the Spartans after being held out for an injury in their home opener. She would finish with 11 points in 22 minutes of action.
The Spartans will open their Big Ten season at Minnesota next week looking to continue their momentum.
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