Despite foul trouble from the key duo of Nia Clouden and Alyza Winston, the Michigan State Spartans’ bench came up big to power the Spartans past Northern Illinois 82-70 to move the team to 6-0. This was just the fifth game all-time between the programs, the first time since 2007, and the first time in East Lansing since 1990. MSU is now 3-2 all-time against NIU, with MSU now having the only back-to-back wins in the series.
The Northern Illinois Huskies jumped out to an 8-2 lead in this one, but it was all MSU afterward. The Spartans, sparked by a Clouden three-pointer, went on a 16-0 run to make it 18-2. NIU was kept off the board by strong MSU defense for over five minutes of game play, as MSU went on a 21-4 run in all over the final six minutes of the first quarter. The Spartans forced eight turnovers during the quarter.
State came out swinging in the second quarter as well, going on a 6-0 run out of the game. However, NIU refused to go quietly and went on its own 9-0 run. Despite trimming the MSU lead to just 10 points, 41-31, with 1:39 left in the half, a Tory Ozment trey helped sendthe Spartans and Huskies into the locker room for the half with MSU up 46-31.
The third quarter saw foul trouble mount for Clouden and Winston, as each got called for her fourth and third foul, respectively. NIU also managed to trim its deficit to single-digits on a free throw, 54-45, before the Spartans recovered a double-digit lead.
The fourth quarter saw another Huskies run, this one 7-0, to cut the deficit to 65-58 with 8:30 to go. Despite foul trouble, Clouden and Winston managed their usual performance and came in clutch down the stretch. The duo combined for 12 points as the Spartans cruised to a 82-70 victory and a 6-0 record for the first time since 2012-13.
Clouden ended the night leading MSU with 18 points, tied Tory Ozment for a team-high seven assists, and was second on the glass with six boards. Clouden has now had 17-straight games in double-digits, and has posted double-digit figures in 33 of her last 36 games. She is just 52 points shy of scoring 1,000 career points.
Tory Ozment was second in scoring for the team with 12 points, and tied Clouden with seven assists. Julia Ayrault and Taiyier Parks both scored nine, while Parks fell just shy of a double-double with 10 rebounds.
Michigan State managed 25 assists in the game, which makes it the second-straight game and fourth this season that topped 20 dishes to teammates.
Michigan State has its final non-conference game against Oakland on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at noon EST. The return to Big Ten play has been postponed until Dec. 31 following a COVID-19 pause by Ohio State.