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Taiyier Parks, Alyza Winston display chemistry on court for MSU women's basketball

November 16, 2021
<p>Michigan State&#x27;s Taiyier Parks (14) attempts to score during Michigan State&#x27;s victory over the Niagara Purple Eagles on Nov. 14, 2021.</p>

Michigan State's Taiyier Parks (14) attempts to score during Michigan State's victory over the Niagara Purple Eagles on Nov. 14, 2021.

Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

On one end of the court, boxed out by three Niagara women's basketball players but hungry for action: junior guard Alyza Winston. At the other, unguarded and waiting: junior center Taiyier Parks. The ball cuts a zig-zag between the walls of the Spartan's opponents, from the hands of freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann, to Winston, over the head of Niagara's senior guard Ally Haar and popped over the rim by Parks.

By the end of the afternoon, the duo had combined for 28 points, going 12-for-23 from the field, with eight assists and rebounds, five steals and zero turnovers. The chemistry displayed was unmatchable as the duo were first and third in leading the team to their 89-65 victory.

"Specifically, I thought that was Tai's best effort, even when she was tired ... Sometimes when she hits her wall from a fatigue standpoint, she gives into that, ... but she's pushing through and getting better," MSU Women's Basketball Head Coach Suzy Merchant said postgame. "I thought she was a bright spot, the way she blocked shots, got her hands on some steals, she scored in there, she ran the floor. It's the hardest I've seen her play."

"And then, Alyza's speed. To get the ball advanced ... and then Tai's down there usually somewhere, it's a nice one-two punch for sure," Merchant added.

The Muskegon, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio natives came into MSU together in 2019.

Their freshman season, they saw minor playing time in all 30 scheduled games, scoring an average of less than five points each.

Their sophomore season was a little different, as was the rest of the world, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, and the duo had big shoes to fill as Taryn McCutcheon graduated to play for the Icelandic women's basketball team. But, they managed, helping the Spartans get to both the Big Ten Tournament semifinals – where they fell 87-72 to Iowa – and the First Round of the NCAA Tournament – where they fell 79-75 to Iowa State.

Over two games, they're averaging the most playing time thus far, Winston leading the offense and Parks leading the defense. Together, they become an oiled machine, crafted to perfection by Merchant. Winston has already set a career-high steals (6), while also assisting in a new program record of 3-pointers (17).

"We came in together, and we know our capabilities and our speeds. I know she can get the ball if I throw it to her," Parks said postgame. "Like coach has said, becoming an upperclassmen means you have to produce more. You have more experience than others, so I was just trying to put (forth) my all and give my best to the team (today)."

"They're amazing. Tai, she goes for every rebound, she plays very hard, and Alyza, it starts with her intensity. She starts on defense and it usually transitions into her offense to make scoring better for her (and us)," Hagemann said of the duo postgame.

The team has three games this week, two to close out their four-game homestand and their first road trip that'll land them in the Bronx, New York. Winston has nearly solidified herself in the starting five, unsure if it could change as the season progresses, and Parks adds a great mix for the team when coming off the bench in the second half.

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