The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team was back in action today after a 14-day pause due to COVID-19 issues. Not missing a beat, and shaking off the two-game losing streak the Spartans were riding heading into their game today, MSU went to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers and used a strong second half performance to run away with it in a 94-62 win over the Badger women.
Wisconsin managed to keep it close throughout the first half. MSU led by just one at the end of the first quarter, up 17-16 before pushing the lead at halftime to 40-35. Junior guard Janai Crooms and junior guard Alisia Smith both joined the starting lineup and helped MSU jump out to an 11-4 lead as they combined for the first five points of the game. However, a 7-0 run by Wisconsin tied it up at 13 with just under three minutes remaining. Junior point gaurd Nia Clouden came through to break a four-minute scoring drought for the Spartans to take the lead back and make it 15-13.
The Spartans didn’t commit a single turnover in the first half, and ended the game with a season low of just five.
The Spartans pushed the lead to double-digits late in the third quarter off a three-point play by Smith to make it 58-47 with just 2:33 left in the quarter. MSU went on to score five-straight to stretch it 65-49 with just 29 seconds left before Wisconsin got in a late score to cut the Spartan run to 12-4 and trail by 65-51 to start the fourth quarter. Overall MSU outscored Wisconsin 25-16 in the third.
We that defense creating offense! pic.twitter.com/Bq1vpYG52V— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_WBasketball) January 24, 2021
The Spartans finished out strong with a 29-11 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Alyza Winston helped get the ball rolling in the high scoring quarter with the first of her three three-pointers in the game. Another three helped cap an 8-0 run by MSU with 3:11 to go and an 88-60 lead over Wisconsin. Freshman forward Kendall Bostic came in off the bench for six of her nine points in the game.
Smith scored a career high 19 points while leading the Spartans today. This marks just the second time this season a player besides Clouden has led MSU in scoring this season, and the first time for Smith. Clouden and sophomore forward Taiyier Parks were tied for second in scoring with 15 points apiece, matching a career high for Parks. Sophomore guard Moira Joiner rounded out double-digit scorers with 10 points, marking her third double-digit scoring performance of the season. Three other Spartans fell just short of double-digits with nine points apiece.
Michigan State’s 32-point margin of victory marks the largest ever in Big Ten play under head coach Suzy Merchant, along with the largest margin in a Big Ten game this season. The previous largest margin was a 56-25 win over Northwestern on March 4, 2011 in coach Merchant’s third season on the job in East Lansing. It was also the fourth 30-plus point margin of victory under Merchant in Big Ten action to go along with a 30-point win over Indiana in 2013 and a 30-point win over Northwestern in 2018.
MSU snapped a two-game losing streak and moves to 9-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, meanwhile, moves to 3-10 overall and 0-10 in conference play. The Spartans were initially scheduled to play Michigan in East Lansing on Tuesday and then in Ann Arbor on Thursday this week, but with Michigan athletics shutting down for two weeks, those games have now been put on pause. Next on the schedule as of now is a game at Indiana on Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. EST.