Jan. 4, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Michigan State women's basketball team won its fourth-straight Big Ten opener, as the Spartans cruised past Minnesota, 81-56 on Saturday afternoon in Williams Arena. The Spartans (9-5, 1-0) shot 56.5% from the field as five players posted double-figure points.
Both teams started fast offensively with the game tied at 10, just 3:12 into the game, as the teams combined to make nine of their first 12 baskets. However, the pace slowed down as Minnesota (11-4, 0-1) led 16-13 with 9:19 to go in the first.
The Spartans took the game over from that point forward, as MSU closed the half on a 25-5 run. During that stretch, the Gophers were 1-for-11 from the field, including going the final 5:42 without a field goal. Meanwhile, Michigan State hit 10 of its last 12 shots in the half, including its last six.
The Spartans continued their hot shooting in the opening minutes of the second half, making six of their first seven attempts to expand their lead to 51-27, and force a Gopher timeout with 16:28 on the clock. Michigan State would not let Minnesota closer than 20 the rest of the way, including raising its advantage to 27 on five different occasions.
Five Spartans scored in double-figures, led by 14 points from Tori Jankoska in 22 minutes off the bench. Junior Kiana Johnson and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each added 13 points. Johnson also dished out a game-high nine assists and grabbed five rebounds, while Powers chipped in eight rebounds and four assists in only 20 minutes. Sophomore Becca Mills had 12 points, going 5-for-5 from the field, and a game-high nine rebounds, including five offensive. Senior Klarissa Bell was also perfect from the field, going 4-for-4, including making all three 3-pointers, en route to 11 points. She also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
The Spartans return home to face No. 18/15 Nebraska on Thursday at 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
- It was the largest margin of victory for MSU in a road Big Ten game since Feb. 23, 2006 at Michigan (68-42).
- Minnesota entered the game leading the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%), but the Spartans held them to 3-for-12 (25.0%) shooting.
- Offensively, it was the most points that Minnesota has allowed this season, after entering the game first in the Big Ten and 19th in the nation, allowing only 55.9 points per game.
- The Gophers were also first in the conference and 13th in the NCAA In field goal percentage defense (33.3%), but MSU shot 56.9%, including 68.0% in the second half.
- Michigan State, led by the defensive effort of Klarissa Bell, held the Big Ten leading scorer Rachel Banham (21.2 ppg) to only 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting, including 1-for-7 from 3-point. She was also fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten with a 51.4% 3-point percentage, making 2.9 per game.
- The Spartans' field goal percentage of 56.9% was the best in a Big Ten game since shooting 60.0% vs. Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2005.
- Michigan State improves to 17-16 in Big Ten openers, including a 5-2 mark under Coach Merchant.
- Today was MSU's seventh game with at least 80 points so far this season. It is the most since the 2004-05 season, and already the eighth-most in a single-season all-time.
- The 81 points were the most by MSU in a Big Ten game since scoring 83 vs. Penn State on Jan. 29, 2012.
- MSU improves to 32-20 in road Big Ten games under Coach Merchant, the most wins in the conference in her tenure.
- The Spartans held a 42-26 edge in rebounding today. Minnesota was +5.2 on the glass entering the game.
- MSU is now 9-0 this season when shooting more free throws than its opponent.
- Kiana Johnson has led MSU in assists in eight of her last nine games. During that span, she has totaled 63 assists (7.0 per game) and only 14 turnovers.
- MSU has totaled at least 20 assists in back-to-back game for the first time since the beginning of the 2009-10 season (Nov. 27-28, 2009).
- Michigan State improves to 38-20 all-time against Minnesota, having won six of the last seven meetings.
- The Spartans have won three of their last four trips to Williams Arena.
- The 25-point margin of victory is the largest for MSU in the series since Feb. 10, 2005 (79-48).