Michigan State women's basketball defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions in Happy Valley. This much-needed Big Ten road win gives the Spartans an 11-8 overall record and a 5-3 conference record and is their first win of the season outside of the state of Michigan.
The Spartans struggled early in the first quarter to defend Penn State superstar junior guard Makenna Marisa who got off to a hot start, scoring a quick five points for the Nittany Lions. Although they were able to deter Marisa from her usual scoring, she still finished with 17 points. MSU also gave up too many free shots via turnovers that gave their opponent the momentum initially, but as soon as they gave it away, they took it right back.
Freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann got the offense started by using her advanced court vision to find her post players and kick it out for some three-point attempts. Hagemann also wasn’t afraid to take some shots behind the arc for herself. She and senior guard Nia Clouden hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Spartans the kickstart the team needed. Hagemann finished with four three-pointers and Clouden hit three.
Building off that energy was graduate student forward Alisia Smith who couldn’t seem to miss against her former team. She used her signature mid-range jump shot to knock down some timely buckets to extend their lead and was even able to score on a missed jumper by following her shot to grab the rebound and then driving to the bucket for a quick two points. She finished with 12 points.
While Clouden is usually the one who steps up offensively for MSU, today's scoring was a collective effort from the entire team. Although freshman guard Matilda Ekh had a slow start and wasn’t able to provide much scoring initially, she made it up with her defense. Ekh was able to force a turnover on a Penn State breakaway layup due to her excellent defensive stance which Clouden then capitalized on with a tricky reverse layup on the other end.
The Nittany Lions were able to take control coming out of the locker room and quickly make it a close game. The Spartans struggled with turnovers and fouls to give Penn State some easy points, similar to the beginning of the game. However, MSU was able to take control after a slow second-half start, quickly extending their lead to as much as 15 at one point in the third quarter.
This change in momentum came from Ekh finding her shot. Penn State put extra emphasis on defending her, but once the Big Ten freshman of the week found her stride, the damage was done. Ekh went on to go 3-7 from behind the arc and finished with 15 points to prove she is a force to be reckoned with.
Old habits returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter for the Spartans as they struggled with turnovers and foul trouble that allowed the Nittany Lions to once again chip away at the lead. However, they weren't able to capitalize on any timely possessions and MSU was able to maintain a significant lead, breaking it open with a minute left in the game, especially thanks to junior center Taiyier Parks who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Spartans will look to continue climbing the ranks of the Big Ten when they travel Piscataway to take on Rutgers on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights have struggled to get anything going this season and are still looking for their first Big Ten win of the season having a record of 0-9.
Support student media!
Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.
Share and discuss “FINAL: MSU 79, PSU 58: Spartans secure elusive road win over Penn State” on social media.