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MSU Women’s Basketball: Spartans defeat Rutgers in Piscataway, 61-45

The win marks the fourth-straight for the Spartan women.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 12 Womens - Michigan State at Ohio State Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team finished up a two-game road-stand with a visit to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Sunday afternoon. The Spartans left with a 61-45 victory, marking a fourth-straight win for the team and second-straight on the road.

The Spartans saw yet another balanced performance in the trip to Jersey Mike’s Arena on Sunday. Four Spartans scored in double figures, once again led by senior guard Nia Clouden, who finished with 17 points and a team high six assists as well. Graduate student and forward Alisia Smith was second on the team in both scoring and rebounds with 14 points and six rebounds.

Junior forward Taiyier Parks led the team on the glass with 10 rebounds, notching a double-double with her 11 points. Freshman guard/forward Matilda Ekh tied Parks for third in scoring with 11 points.

Lasha Petree, a Detroit native, led the Scarlet Knights in scoring with 16 points.

Once again, the Spartans got off to a slow start. Rutgers jumped out to as large as a 12-point lead by the midway mark of the first quarter, leading 16-4. Michigan State finally woke up and went on a run of its own, however. By the 28-second mark, Clouden hit both her free throws after being fouled on a second chance shooting opportunity and cut it to within one, trailing 16-15. Rutgers’ Petree managed to hit a buzzer-beating layup to finish the opening period, though, with MSU trailing 15-18.

The Spartans rode the momentum from the last half of the opening period into the second quarter and tied it up just under a minute into the period on a three-pointer by sophomore forward Jayla James. MSU built its lead out to as much as five points before Rutgers staged a run of its own to tie it up at the midway point at 23 each. Michigan State quickly seized the lead back again on a Clouden layup and never trailed or tied for the remainder of the game. The Spartans headed into the locker room at the half up 31-23.

Rutgers came out of the locker room at halftime and managed to make a run to eat into the Spartans’ lead. However, after cutting it to within four points, Michigan State responded on offense and went on a 9-2 scoring run to push its lead back to 38-29. The score remained back-and-forth for the remainder of the quarter, ending on a three-pointer by Ekh to give MSU a 45-37 lead heading into the final period.

The Spartans dominated in the fourth quarter. Michigan State finished the game on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes, holding the Scarlet Knights scoreless for the final 3:24 and to just eight points overall in the period.

The Spartans move to 12-8 overall on the season with the win, and 6-3 in Big Ten action. Michigan State welcomes the Maryland Terrapins to East Lansing on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Suzy Merchant’s Post-Game Remarks