The Michigan State Spartans were in Ann Arbor yesterday to take on hated arch-rival Michigan Wolverines, but fell 86-82 despite a furious comeback. The No. 11/12 ranked Wolverines moved to 12-1 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten while the Spartans are now 11-6 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten.
The Spartans went toe-to-toe at the start of the game against Michigan for the first six minutes or so of game action. The Wolverines led slightly with a 13-11 advantage, but then MSU hit a cold streak and failed to score a basket for over three minutes of action. Michigan took advantage to jump out to a 22-12 lead at the buzzer for the first quarter.
The Spartans shook off the cold streak by opening the second quarter with a 7-0 run to pull the score within four, trailing Michigan 25-21. The run was short lived, though, as later in the second quarter Michigan answered with its own 11-0 run before the Spartans could end the cold streak with a three by Nia Clouden. She would go on to finish scoring the final five points of the half, cutting MSU’s deficit to 46-35 heading into the locker room.
The Spartans continued to stand strong against the Wolverines despite the deficit. Michigan State hit four straight field goals in the mid-part of the third quarter to cut the game to 10, trailing Michigan 60-50. The Wolverine’s leading scorer, Naz Hillmon, picked up her fourth foul late in the third, and MSU took advantage to finish out the quarter trailing just 68-62 after a 7-0 run.
The fourth quarter saw MSU continue to close the gap. After a trey by Clouden, the Spartans trailed 70-67 with under eight minutes remaining in the game. Hillmon was back in the game for the Wolverines and helped make the difference for the Wolverines, scoring six of the team’s 18 points in the final quarter. At the buzzer it was MSU 82 and Michigan 86.
Clouden led Michigan State, and everyone for that matter on either team, in scoring with a career-high 34 points. That is the highest single game score since Tori Jankowski’s 42-point performance against Ohio State on Jan. 10, 2017, a school-record for most in a single-game. Clouden’s 34 points is tied for seventh-most in school history, but ranks No. 8 on the single-game scoring record as two players tied with 35 points apiece. Clouden herself ties four other Spartans who have scored 34 points, but is the first to do so since Aisha Jefferson did so against Notre Dame in 2008. It was also Clouden’s second career game scoring 30-plus points, the other coming earlier this season against Maryland. Clouden also added a team high eight rebounds and drew nine fouls.
Alyza Winston was second in scoring for the Spartans with 18 points and did so coming off the bench while Alisia Smith was third in scoring with eight. The Spartans’ bench outscored the Wolverines 32-11, marking the 15th game this season the MSU reserves have outscored the opponents. Julia Ayrault had three blocks, Taiyier Parks had two steals and was second for the team on the boards with six rebounds, and Janai Crooms had two assists.
The Spartans return to East Lansing Sunday, Feb. 21 at 11:30 a.m. EST to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the team’s annual Pink Game and it will air on FS1.