The Michigan State Spartans cruised past in-state opponent the Oakland Grizzlies Tuesday afternoon. The No. 25 ranked Spartans finished the final non-conference game of the season with a 94-56 win in an impressive fashion as the Grizzlies offered a tune-up prior to a return to Big Ten play after the Christmas break.
Michigan State got to really play the bench in this one as a season-high 12 Spartans saw time on the floor. Despite a tiring three games in the last five days, MSU survived the gauntlet to continue its undefeated streak. It was also the first games today for Penn State transfers Alisia Smith and Jayla James as they received immediate eligibility under the NCAA blanket waiver for the 2020-21 season. Smith scored nine points and James two points in their Spartan debut.
MSU dominated the stat sheet across the board as well as the Spartans out-rebounded Oakland 43-25, marking the second-highest rebounding total this season and fourth game with 40 or more rebounds. The defense also held all but one Oakland player to single-digits. Kahlaijah Dean managed 15 points, while the next highest Grizzly player managed just seven.
The first quarter was tight, at least for a while. MSU never trailed, but the game was tied 2-2 early before Michigan State eventually led by 10 at one point. Oakland clawed back to make it 16-12 MSU in the lead at the horn, though. Tory Ozment led State in the quarter with six points.
The second quarter saw Michigan State start to truly take over the game. Late in the quarter, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run to seize the largest lead of the game at that point heading into the locker room. Julia Ayrault finished the half just shy of a double-double, while Alyza Winston 10 points in the quarter.
Despite a 6-0 Grizzlies run in the third quarter to make it 42-37 MSU, the Spartans responded with a quick six points in just 24 seconds of game play. After extending the run to 10-0 for MSU, State would run on to out-score Oakland 19-4 and finish the quarter with a 63-41 lead.
The Spartans scored the first 17 points in the fourth with a lot of bench minutes along the way. Over the final 10 minutes of the game, MSU outscored the Grizzlies 21-9.
MSU finished this game with a season-high 65 percent shooting from the field, though at one point midway through the fourth the Spartans were shooting 70 percent. Four Spartans scored in double-figures, marking the fourth time this season that four or more players were in double-digits.
Nia Clouden led MSU in scoring with 15 points, Julia Ayrault was second with 14 points, Moira Joiner had 13 points, and Alyza Winston scored 12. Janai Crooms led the team with 10 boards, and Ayrault fell just shy of a double-double with nine. Joiner led the team in assists with five.
Michigan State will enjoy a holiday break and returns to action Jan. 3, 2021 at Purdue. The Ohio State game was postponed due to a pause in activities by the Buckeyes due to COVID-19 issues.