The Michigan State Spartans were up against the Penn State Nittany Lions for a Saturday matinee matchup and left Happy Valley with a comfortable win. The Spartans downed the Lady Lions 78-65 as four Spartans hit double-figures in an impressive shooting performance. MSU moved to 11-5 overall and 6-5 in the Big Ten while Penn State fell to 8-9 overall and 5-8 in conference play.
Michigan State jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game, and never looked back. Back-to-back threes by Moira Joiner and Nia Clouden seemingly set the tone for the first half, let alone the first quarter, of action. Taiyier Parks and Mardrekia Cook came off the bench and helped push the Spartan advantage up to 11-2 and forced a PSU timeout with 3:58 left in the quarter. It didn’t slow down the Spartans, though, as more three-pointers saw the lead extend out to 22-11 at the end of the first.
If you thought the first quarter went well for MSU, how about scoring the first 13 points of the second quarter? That’s exactly what Michigan State did as it pushed the lead out to 35-11. Clouden scored eight of her 13 first half points in the second quarter alone, while Alyza Winston also finished the half with double-digits as she added 11 herself.
The halftime speech by the Penn State coaching staff must have had an effect, though. Michigan State initially pushed the lead out to 25. However, PSU was able to trim it down to 16 helped in part by hitting four-of-five shots from the field during a strong run. It couldn’t last the entire quarter, though, as MSU managed a 7-0 run late to finish the third quarter up 63-41. Both teams finished dead even in points, though, with each scoring 17.
The Spartans couldn’t afford to rest too much on their laurels for the final quarter as Penn State used a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 13, trailing 70-57 with just under five minutes left in the game. However, Michigan State held the Lady Lions off over the final minutes, as each team scored just eight points apiece over the final minutes of action.
Clouden led all scorers with 17 points, marking her 13th time this season she has led the Spartans in scoring. Clouden added seven rebounds to lead the team on the glass as well, and added two assists, one block, and a steal. Julia Ayrault scored 13, Winston added 11, and Alisia Smith scored 10 to round out the double-digit scorers for Michigan State.
Janai Crooms led the Spartans in assists with seven (a new career high), steals with three, and blocks with two. Ayrault was second on the team in boards with five, while Tory Ozment, Crooms, and Parks each added four.
The Spartans return to action Tuesday in East Lansing against the Michigan Wolverines at 4:30 p.m.