Senior forward Taiyier Parks scored a career-high 18 points to lead the MSU women's basketball team (2-0) past Purdue Fort Wayne (1-1) 85-53 on Thursday night.
It was Hoops for Troops night at the Breslin Center as the Spartans took on the Mastodons in the second game of their five-game home stand to start the season.
Parks got off to a hot start as she won the tipoff. On the ensuing possession, she muscled through some Mastadon contact and finished, hitting the free throw to convert on the and-one. She kept up her strong play all half, finishing with seven points and three rebounds on 3-3 shooting.
Graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel and senior guard Moira Joiner also were solid for the Spartans as they boasted seven and six points, respectively, in the first two quarters to help keep the Spartans ahead throughout. Joiner was an efficient 3-5 from the field, while the Baylor transfer McDaniel converted on five of her six shots from the stripe.
The Mastodons kept themselves in the game early on as they started out scorching hot from deep. They finished the first quarter 5-9 from behind the arc. They started to cool off in the second quarter from three, though, ending the half at a 6-15 clip.
Junior guard Amellia Bromenschenkel lit up the Spartans in the first half, putting up 11 points on 4-6 shooting. She went 3-3 from downtown in that span.
For the Spartans, the threes were not falling as they could only manage to hit on one of their 11 attempts in the first 20 minutes.
Despite the slow start from long range and the hot start from the opposition, they went into the break with a 40-29 advantage.
McDaniel continued her strong play early into the third period, hitting on a mid-range jumper to start the second half scoring for MSU. She also kept attacking the rim early on, shooting her 10th free throw of the night just three minutes in. She finished the game with eight makes on those 10 attempts.
McDaniel said that going through her progressions led to her many attempts at the foul line.
"Getting past my defender and making sure I do what's necessary in the second line," McDaniel said. "If I see the basket then I'll take it, if not then I will kick it. Just kind of going through what coach talks a lot about is progressions. Beat my defender, and then what's next and then what's after that is kind of what my thought process was."
Parks also kept her strong night going early into the second half. She converted on two close-range attempts to push the Spartans to a 22-point lead four minutes into the third quarter.
After only scoring three points in the first 20, freshman guard Theryn Hallock got off to a quick start halfway through the third period, getting six points on three layups, with two of them coming off Mastodon turnovers. She had two steals on the night.
Despite the attempts not falling as often as they were in the first 10 minutes, Purdue Fort Wayne kept firing. Sophomore guard Audra Emmerson, senior guard Shayla Sellers and sophomore guard Ryin Ott hit one a piece to keep the MSU lead within 20 points heading into the final quarter.
Bromenschenkel, after going into the half in foul trouble, could not stay on the court past the third quarter as she committed her fifth and final foul with two minutes left in the period. With their leading scorer out of the game, it became tough for the Mastodons to find offense.
Joiner got the scoring in the final period started for MSU as she went a perfect 4-4 in her two trips to the line. She finished with 10 points on the night.
McDaniel and Parks did not stop their strong play until the final 10 minutes were over. Parks had two layups and a free throw in the first five, while McDaniel added a fast-break layup. With the career high, Parks also added nine boards to her stat line while McDaniel had 14, which was good for second-most in the game.
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When Parks was converting on her eight-shot attempts, she said that all she focused on was the rim.
"I got good teammates to get me the ball to put me in a good position to score," Parks said.
Hallock continued to stay aggressive as she pushed her point total to 13 on 6-7 shooting after hitting two layups in the final minutes of the game.
The Spartan defense held the Mastodons to a measly seven points in the final period. After their scorching hot start, Purdue Fort Wayne finished 20-52 overall and 10-33 from deep.
That same defense also forced 26 turnovers for a third straight game this season. Head Coach Suzy Merchant was pleased with the performance, but she believes that the squad can improve on their quarter-court defense.
"I thought our kids did a pretty good job early," Merchant said. "Like I said, we have pockets where we go a little over anxious and they can score it on the back end of that. We're playing a lot of people right now, so I'm trying to find people who can separate within the pressure. One who can press and then quarter court guard. And then what kind of tanks do they have?"
With the win, MSU moves to 2-0 and will face Western Michigan in the third game of their five-game home stand on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.
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