Michigan State women’s basketball celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX and welcomed its alumni back with a victory, dominating Rutgers 85-63.
It was a much needed win, following an upsetting road loss to Michigan last weekend and an overtime loss to Iowa on Wednesday, and putting an end to the team's four-game losing streak.
The Spartans came out of the gate with a 9-0 scoring run until freshman guard Kaylene Smikle got Rutgers on the board with two free throws.
MSU pulled away early, leading 17-5 with 3:12 to play in the first quarter. With 1:22 left to play in the first, sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh and freshman guard Theryn Hallock hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Spartans a 17-point lead.
The Scarlet Knights shot 31 % from the field in the first half, while the Spartans hit half their attempts.
Both teams struggled a bit from the three-point line, with MSU going 6-17, while Rutgers went 3-10. It wasn’t until the last four minutes of the half when the shots finally started to fall for MSU. Sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann and freshman guard Abbey Kimball put up a combined nine points from the three-point line.
Rutgers went without a shot from the field in the last 5:38 of the first half and the Spartans entered the locker room with a solid 48-26 lead.
The Scarlet Knights returned to the court with a better handle on the game, making three layups in the first few minutes and forcing the Spartans to take a timeout to regroup.
Fouls were a bit of an issue for Michigan State in the third quarter, with the team recording six. Rutgers was whistled for half that amount with three. Although the Scarlet Knights earned multiple scoring opportunities from the free throw line, MSU had no problem hanging onto the lead.
Kimball took advantage of a Rutgers turnover making a layup with 3:06 left in the quarter. Less than a minute later, senior forward Taiyier Parks forced another turnover and scored a layup of her own, sending the home bench and crowd to their feet.
The Spartans entered the final ten minutes of the game with a 63-44 lead over the visitors.
MSU dominated in the fourth quarter never allowing the Scarlet Knights to come within more than 18 points. Once the Spartans iced the game with a solid lead, freshman guard Maddy Skorupski and freshman guard Olivia Porter checked in with a minute left on the clock.
Kimball’s noteworthy, offensive showing earned her a career-high 13 points. Parks led the team in rebounds with seven, while Hagemann had a game-high eight assists.
With the win, Michigan State moves to 11-9 overall and 3-6 in conference play.
The Spartans look to add another Big Ten win to their resume as they head to Champaign for a matchup with Illinois next Sunday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m.