Nov. 23, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball 81-68 victory over Rice tonight was overshadowed by the long-awaited return to the court by Madison Williams. The 6-7 center, who has missed all but three games in the last three seasons due to three separate ACL injuries, played for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011. She played five minutes tonight, totaling six points, a rebound, a block and a steal.
The No. 21/19 Spartans, who improved to 4-1 and conclude a four-game homestand, were led by four double-figure scorers. Junior Becca Mills tied her career-high with 20 points, while also adding six rebounds. Classmate Kiana Johnson added season highs of 15 points and seven assists, while not committing a turnover. Senior Annalise Pickrel scored 14 points, with 12 of them coming in the second half, and fellow senior Klarissa Bell had 10 points and tied her career-high with six assists.
The Spartans shot 52.5% from the field, including 61.3% in the second half, while dishing out a season-high 20 assists. MSU was effective in the paint, scoring 54 of its 81 points around the rim.
The first half featured nine ties and eight lead changes, but the Spartans took control in the second half. Rice scored the first points after halftime, but Michigan State responded with a 12-2 run to take over. The Owls got back within four at 55-51 with 9:34 left, but the Spartans ran off 13 consecutive points to end any comeback attempt.
Michigan State returns to action on Tuesday night, traveling to Temple for a 7 p.m. tip.
- The Spartans have scored at least 80 points in the last four games, the longest stretch in program history.
- MSU is now 26-1 at home in November in Coach Merchant's tenure.
- The Spartans have won 43-straight games when scoring at least 70 points. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 61-4 when reaching that point total.
- Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field three times in the first five games. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
- Mills becomes the fourth Spartan to have scored 20 points in a game this season.
- With her seven assists, Kiana Johnson moved into 18th place on the MSU career assist list (256).
- Aerial Powers led MSU with seven rebounds tonight. She became the fifth different Spartan to lead the team in rebounding through five games.
- Michigan State improves to 2-0 against Rice.