In the Michigan State Spartans’ annual pink game, the team rallied from a fourth quarter deficit as large as nine points to escape the upset loss to the Purdue Boilermakers on a thrilling buzzer-beater by junior guard Tory Ozment. MSU moved to 12-6 on the season and 7-6 in Big Ten play while Purdue lost its seventh straight.
Alyza Winston returned to the starting lineup in today’s game following two-straight performances off the bench that saw double-figure scoring, including her 18 points against Michigan. The decision by head coach Suzy Merchant paid key dividends on the afternoon as Nia Clouden struggled in the outing against Purdue, not making a field goal on her first six shot attempts from the field in the first half. Winston played the full first quarter and scored five points while dishing four assists as the Spartans jumped out to a big lead to close the first.
End 1Q | Winston with five points and 4 assists in the first QUARTER!— Spartan Basketball (@MSU_WBasketball) February 21, 2021
With Clouden struggling, though, Purdue’s Kayana Traylor seized the opening and accounted for 16 points to give the Boilermakers a narrow lead at half. Her three-pointer from beyond the arc included the final points of the half to give Purdue the 37-35 lead heading into the locker room.
The third quarter was mostly back and forth between the teams. Janai Crooms led the offense this quarter with her three assists to the post players gave MSU the lead multiple times in the third. Clouden also finally broke out of her scoring funk with a drive to the basket that drew the foul for an and-one play. While Clouden missed the extra point, Alisia Smith grabbed the board and dished it back to Clouden for another bucket to make it a four-point swing.
Despite the team effort in the third quarter by Michigan State, Traylor continued to light it up on the Boilermakers’ offensive end, scoring nine points in the third. her layup at the buzzer extended Purdue’s lead to three at the end of the quarter, up 55-52.
The fourth quarter saw Purdue continuously draw fouls and get easy points from the line. A 7-0 run through the mid-point of the final quarter saw the Boilermakers leading 69-60 with just 4:10 left to play. The Spartans mounted a furious comeback, though, as Purdue proceeded to commit four turnovers down the stretch and go 1-for-2 on layups and 2-for-4 from the free throw line.
Michigan State got hot when it counted, though, getting three steals and a block, sinking three layups, including one on an offensive rebound off a missed three-pointer, and draining two threes including Ozment’s buzzer-beater for the 76-73 win.
Smith led Michigan State in scoring and rebounds, notching a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Winston was second in scoring and assists with 16 points and five assists. Moira Joiner was third in scoring and the only other Spartan to reach double figures with 11 points. Clouden, despite struggling with shooting on 3-13 from field goal range, finished the game leading in assists with six. Seven Spartans scored at least six points in a balanced offensive performance.
Traylor for the Boilermarkers led all scorers with 31 total points and led Purdue with five assists. MSU held a 39-29 rebound advantage.
The Spartans return to the court on Wednesday against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in East Lansing. Game time has not yet been announced.