MSU Shuts Down No. 21 Michigan In Annual Pink Game
Senior Lexi Gussert shines with 14 points in the win.
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half to help her team build a double-digit lead and Michigan State held on to beat No. 21 Michigan 66-61 on Sunday.
PDF Box Score vs. UM
MSU celebrated its annual Pink Game for breast cancer awareness and Girl Scout Day by packing the Breslin Center with 12,434 fans, which was the eighth-highest attendance in school history.
The Spartans (15-11, 5-8 Big Ten) had lost six straight, playing without one of their best players and a key reserve. The Wolverines (20-7, 9-5) have lost three of four, falling out of contention to win a Big Ten title.
Gussert led a very balanced Spartan attack with 14 points to go along with three rebounds, steals and assists. All nine MSU players that got in the game score at least two points. Both redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines both scored nine points and added five rebounds.
Michigan was led by Katelynn Flaherty, who scored 20 points and added eight rebounds.
The Wolverines scored the first seven points of the game, but the Spartans battled back scoring the next eight to take an early 8-7 lead. Late in the first quarter, MSU used an 8-0 run to take a 16-9 lead with 2:10 left in the period. An Agee trey gave MSU its first double-digit lead of the contest 21-11.
Michigan responded with a 6-0 run of its own to cut the Spartan advantage to 26-20 with seven minutes left in the half. In a crucial possession of the quarter, ussert nailed a trey as the shot clock expired to push MSU's lead to 32-22 with 3:49 left in the second quarter.
MSU shot 53 percent in the first half, led by 11 points from Gussert. The Spartans were also 5-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.
In the third quarter, both teams started a little cold, but the Spartans were able to sustain its double-digit lead much of the period.
The Spartans went into the fourth quarter with a 55-45 lead after two evenly matched quarters.
Flaherty's 3-pointer pulled the Wolverines within 64-61 with 1:26 left. Michigan missed chances to get closer in the final minute because of a shot-clock violation and an ill-advised foul.
Gaines was fouled with three seconds left on the shot clock - and 9.4 seconds remaining in the game - and sealed the victory with two free throws for the Spartans, who didn't make a field goal for the last 6:15 of the game.
The Spartan's Taryn McCutcheon had eight points, five assists and three steals, while chasing Flaherty around the court.
Michigan State continues its four-game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 14 in a Valentine's Day matchup against Nebraska at 7 p.m.
MSU Notes vs. Michigan
MSU's starting line-up of senior forward Taya Reimer, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines was the first such quintet this season as part of the Spartans' 12th different starting lineup this season.
MSU's 12,434 fans Sunday at the Breslin Center was the eighth-highest attendance in school history and was the second time topping the 10,000 fans mark this season, joining the 11,950 from the Indiana game on Jan. 20.
Michigan State split the season series with Michigan, with both teams winning on their home courts, as this is the first season that the teams have played twice during the regular-season since the 2014-15 season ... the Spartans have now won eight of the last 11 meetings with the Wolverines ... MSU is now 34-7 at home vs. UM and now leads the all-time series, 70-19.
With Sunday's win over No. 21/20 Michigan, the Spartans are now 3-5 vs. ranked opponents this season ... Michigan State is now 19-15 at home vs. ranked teams under Coach Suzy Merchant.
All nine Spartans that played in Sunday's game scored, including five players with seven or more points.
Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert tied her season-high with 14 points, marking her fourth double-figure scoring game this season and ninth of her career.
Sunday was the first game this season that Gussert led the Spartans in scoring and was the second time of her career leading the team in points ... with Gussert's first time topping the team in scoring this season, 11 different Spartans have led the team in scoring through the 26 games.
Gussert's 14 points Sunday gives her 129 this season, as she has topped the 120 point mark for the third time in her career ... Gussert netted one 3-pointer Sunday, as she has made at least one trey in 13 of the 21 games played this season ... the triple also gives her 20 for the season, marking her third season with 20 or more 3-pointers and one shy of her career-high of 21 treys from both her freshman and junior seasons.
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon dished out a game-high five assists, marking her 14th game this season with five or more helpers, including four in the last five.
McCutcheon's five assists give her 302 for her career, becoming the 15th Spartan women's basketball player with 300 assists, passing MSU great and current assistant coach Kalisha Keane for No. 15 on the Spartans' career assists list.
The five assists gives McCutcheon 132 helpers this season, closing in on MSU's top 10 single-season assists list, needing six more to tie Marline Ferguson (1991-92) for the No. 10 spot with 138 helpers ... McCutcheon already has the No. 4 spot on the list with 169 helpers from last season.
Michigan State dished out 20 team assists, marking the 11th game this season with 20 or more helpers, including the fourth game in B1G play.
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee netted nine points Sunday, giving her 1,189 for her career, moving up to tie for No. 16 on the Spartans' career scoring list, tying Mary Kay Itnyre (1977-80) ... Sunday was Agee's 129th game played, moving up to tie former teammate Becca Mills (2011-15) for No. 14 on MSU's career games played list ... Agee had five rebounds Sunday, giving her 657 for her career, taking over sole possession of No. 16 on the career rebounds list, pulling away from a tie with Aisha Jefferson (2005-10).