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Women’s Basketball: Spartans Outlast Chippewas Late To Win 79-70, Recap

A fourth-quarter defensive crackdown powers the Spartans past upset-minded and hot shooting CMU.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 23 Div I Women’s Championship - First Round - Central Michigan v Michigan State fPhoto by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans Women avoided upset-minded and hot shooting Central Michigan Chippewas to stay perfect on the season. MSU managed to move to 5-0 for the first time since the 2013-14 season on the backs of a strong performance by the duo of Nia Clouden and Alyza Winston. It also kept Chippewa alum and MSU head coach Suzy Merchant a perfect 2-0 against her alma mater.

Central came out hot in this one, jumping out to an 8-2 lead to start the game, and what would amount to the Chips’ largest lead of the game as well. CMU went six-of-14 from three-point range in the first 10 minutes of game action, helping lead them to a 22-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Coming into the second quarter, the Spartans offense woke up fast with a 10-3 scoring run. Despite that giving MSU a 30-25 lead, CMU managed to briefly retake the lead off a trey by Anike Weekes. However, that was quickly responded to by MSU’s Winston as the Spartans retook the lead shortly after 36-34 and kept the lead into halftime at 40-39.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair as Central used a strong inside-outside game to challenge the Spartans defensively. Central’s Micaela Kelly turned in a strong third quarter performance, scoring 11 points, while Winston for MSU scored nine for the Spartans. CMU came out on top at the end of the third with a narrow 62-60 lead, however.

Michigan State’s defense took over in the fourth, though. Central managed just eight points on the quarter while MSU forced four turnovers, including two steals by Tory Ozment. A Taiyier Parks layup tied it up at 65-all with 5:54 to go, and sparked a 10-0 Spartan run after that for MSU to gain its largest lead of the night, 75-65. The Spartans managed to hang on down the stretch as CMU rallied but fell short 79-70.

Michigan State shot 53.8 percent in the second half, and helped MSU punch back against CMU’s 15 three-pointers in the game. Nia Clouden eclipsed the 20-point mark for her third-straight game. She scored 21 points and dished six assists to go with her three steals. Meanwhile, Alyza Winston scored 19 points, while Julia Ayrault led the Spartans on the glass with 12 boards to go with her eight points. Taiyier Parks also hit double-figures in scoring with 11 points, while grabbing six boards.

Michigan State is back in action on Sunday against Northern Illinois at 3 p.m. EST on BTN+ before wrapping up non-conference action against Oakland on Tuesday at noon EST on BTN+. The return to conference action is delayed as the matchup against Ohio State on Dec. 31 has been postponed due to COVID issues on the Buckeyes roster.

Coach Merchant Post-Game Remarks

Alyza Winston Post-Game Remarks

Nia Clouden Post-Game Remarks