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Women’s hoops advances to Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals with win over Penn State

March 10, 2021
<p>The Spartans defeated the Lady Lions, 75-66, on the second day of the Big Ten Tournament hosted at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Shot on March 10, 2021.</p>

The Spartans defeated the Lady Lions, 75-66, on the second day of the Big Ten Tournament hosted at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Shot on March 10, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

If you like high octane offenses and 3-point baskets, this game was for you.

Michigan State would ultimately prevail late as the backcourt of Alyza Winston and Nia Clouden combined for 41 points in a 75-66 win to move onto the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State and Penn State would go on to combine for 21 made 3-point baskets on the night.

Three’s were falling early and often for both squads. They combined for eight 3-point baskets in the first quarter. However, it would be Penn State who would capitalize.

Anna Camden and Maddie Burke combined for 12 points early for the Nittany Lions.

“Today, we didn’t do a very good job of getting off to a good start,” Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant said. “Part of that is that they were junking us defensively a little bit, but more importantly we just didn’t have good communication and focus on those ball screen actions and those kids can really shoot.”

Janai Crooms battled Penn State’s run early, with seven quick points including an uncharacteristic 3-pointer to gain an 11-10 lead near the midway point of the first quarter.

The Nittany Lions continued to push though and the Spartans offense faltered as they failed to score in the final 2:17 of the quarter. A 5-0 run to end the quarter had the Nittany Lions up 24-18 to end the first.

Burke continued to catch fire from beyond the arc. A pair of threes from her got her squad up by nine early in the second quarter.

Nia Clouden had been struggling as of late, and there was no sign of it changing early as she began the game 0-3 from the field. After sinking a free throw, the Spartans' star guard game to life, sinking an open three during an 8-0 for Michigan State to cut the lead to one following a rough start.

The Spartans finally slowed the Nittany Lions after instituting a press that held Penn State to 11 points and forced five turnovers in the quarter.

Right as the Spartans regained the momentum of the ball game, Penn State continued to accomplish the impossible. Taiyier Parks emphatically blocked a 3-point attempt, only for Nan Garcia to gather the ball and heave a prayer near half court and sink it. The shot clock expired to add insult to injury for Michigan State. The Spartans allowed eight made 3-point baskets in the first half.

Clouden and Winston made up ground slowly in the half. Even though the game was tied at 35, they combined for 19 points in the half.

Both offenses continued to impress in the third quarter, and Penn State started it off as they racked off a 10-0 run to gain an 8-point lead early in the quarter. However, the sophomore class for Michigan State wouldn’t let the game slip away. Winston and Moira Joiner sank three threes to close the gap back within two halfway through the third.

Parks would also contribute to the heroic effort from Michigan State’s sophomore class, scoring three consecutive baskets on a 8-0 run for the Spartans to end the quarter up four.

When her team needed it most in the game, Winston rose to the occasion, knocking down back-to-back threes en route to an 8-point lead with 4:21 remaining.

The press continued to suffocate the Penn State offense that was so hot early on, holding the Nittany Lions to 14 points in the fourth quarter. Michigan State would go on to get their first win of the postseason.

Parks, late in the fourth, would go down with what looked to be a knee injury. Her status for tomorrow’s game is unknown.

The sophomore class of Winston, Joiner and Parks would combine for 46 alongside the monster performance from Winston.

Clouden, after failing to surpass double digit points in the previous three games, finally got back on track, scoring 18 points on the night.

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The Nittany Lions would go onto finish with 11 made 3-pointers, shooting 37.9% from beyond the arc on the night. Burke, who led that effort, finished with 22 points and 6 of Penn State’s made 3-point baskets.

Michigan State will look to carry the momentum against Indiana tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.


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