Spartan Women Celebrate Seniors Against Wisconsin
MSU honors its five seniors versus the Badgers.
|Michigan State (15-12, 5-9 B1G) vs. Wisconsin (9-19, 2-13 B1G)|
|Date||Wednesday, Feb. 21|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center | Bag Policy|
|Tickets||Click To Purchase|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Wisconsin|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Wisconsin|
|Social Media||@MSU_WBasketball | Facebook | Instagram|
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women’s basketball will conclude the regular season portion of the home schedule, hosting Wisconsin on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus. The Spartans will honor its five seniors: Branndais Agee, Kiara Carter, Lexi Gussert, Kennedy Johnson and Taya Reimer.
• Against Nebraska on Feb. 14, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines and senior forward Taya Reimer started for the second-straight game. This was the Spartans’ 12th different starting lineup this season.
• By dishing out nine assists on Feb. 14, Taryn McCutcheon now has 142 helpers this season, moving into the Spartans’ top 10 single-season assists list, climbing up to No. 9, passing Chris Powers (1993-94) with 141 helpers and Marline Ferguson (1991-92) with 138 assists. McCutcheon already has the No. 4 spot on the list with 169 helpers from last season.
• Freshman forward Sidney Cooks leads the team in points scored this season with 272 points. She is currently tied for 12th in the Michigan State freshman record book with Brittney Thomas, who scored 272 points during her rookie season in 2007-08.
• 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.
The injury-ravaged Spartans have used 12 different starting lineups this season. Against Nebraska on Feb. 14 senior forward Taya Reimer, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines all earned starts.
After starting the first 20 games of 2017-18, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon did not start for the first time this season against Michigan on Jan. 23, snapping her streak of starting in all 53 games of her Spartan career. Against Nebraska, she earned her 59th career start.
Agee made her 17th start of the season and 79th of her career against Nebraska. Allen has started 20 games this season and 23 for her career. Cooks has started for the 22 of MSU’s 27 games this season. Gussert has made 10 starts this year.
CLIMBING UP THE CHARTS
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon made her way into the top 10 in single-season assists with 142. The sophomore is currently alone in ninth. She is one assists from tying Vnemina Reese, who had 143 assists during the 1999-00 season. As a freshman, McCutcheon was had 169 helpers, which was fourth all-time in a single season.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Following the game against Wisconsin, the Spartans will say goodbye to five seniors. Transferring from Notre Dame after completing her undergraduate degree, senior forward Taya Reimer has spent two seasons in a Spartan uniform. Forward Kennedy Johnson, guard/forward Lexi Gussert and guard Kiara Carter have been with the program for four years. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee has endured several injuries and will have completed two undergraduate degrees in her six years at Michigan State. Both Reimer and Agee have reached the 1,000-point mark during their Spartan careers. All five will be honored along with their families following the game against the Badgers.
GUSSERT’S GRAND GAME
Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert tied her season-high with 14 points against Michigan on Feb. 11, 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 her 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.
WELCOME BACK COLLEY
After missing the previous seven games due to injury, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley returned to action on Feb. 14 against Nebraska, checking in part way through the first quarter. Colley played 24 minutes and tallied 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal in her first action since Jan. 16 at Illinois. Colley’s 15 points is her fifth double-digit scoring outing in the last six games played as part of her 11th this season. Colley has dished out five or more helpers in each of the last five games played as part of nine games this season. Colley was 1-6, averaging only 62.3 points per game, while allowing 71.9 ppg, while the guard was out.
GAINES COMING UP BIG
As the Spartans have been dealing with injuries, redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines has been solid. In the last three games, Gaines is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game. She is second in rebounding during that stretch with 5.0 rpg. She has gone 6-of-10 from the field (.600) and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc (.625).
LEAVING YOUR MARK
Redshirt senior Branndais Agee is leaving her mark on the Michigan State program. She is now 16th in career rebounds with 661, passing Aisha Jefferson (2005-10) who had 652. She is just eight rebounds shy of tying Kelli Roehrig (2001-05), who had 669 boards during her MSU career. Agee is also tied for 16th in scoring with 1,191 career points, passing Victoria Lucas-Perry (2003-07), who had 1,182 career points. Agee is three points away from tying Jefferson, who had 1,194 points. With 57 blocks, she is tied for 15th in career blocks, just one shy of Aerial Powers (2014-16) who is 14th with 58. Agee is 14th in career games played with 130.
SCOUTING THE BADGERS
Heading in to the final week of the regular season, Wisconsin stands 9-19 overall and 2-13 in Big Ten play. The Badgers are 2-9 on the road and 6-9 at home. This is the only regular-season meeting between the two teams.
As a team, Wisconsin is 14th in scoring offense (60.5 ppg) and seventh in scoring defense (65.9 ppg). In league games, the Badgers are fifth in scoring defense (67.3 ppg) and 14th in scoring offense (55.1 ppg)
Cayla McMorris leads Wisconsin with 13.3 points per game, which ranks 19th in the Big Ten. She also ranks second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game, which ties for 17th in the conference. McMorris has 48 assists this season, ranking third on the team with 1.9 assists per game.
LAST TIME VS. WISCONSIN
Double-figure scoring by four different Spartans lifted Michigan State over Wisconsin in a 70-63 win at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the Big Ten Tournament on March 2, 2017.
Senior Tori Jankoska led all scorers with 22 points, her 19th game this season with 20 or more points. Taya Reimer knocked down her third double-double of the season with 12 points and season-high 12 rebounds. Redshirt senior Branndais Agee added 14 points, and freshman Taryn McCutcheon contributed 10.
Nebraska was led by Jessica Shepard’s double-double with 32 points and 11 rebounds, while Hannah Whitish netted 24 points, including hitting a pair of big 3-pointers in overtime.
GETTING OVER 40
Rebounding has been the key to the Spartans’ success. MSU is 13-7 when getting over 40 boards in a game. Michigan State has had over 56 rebounds three times this season against Oakland, College of Charleston and Detroit Mercy. Overall the Spartans are 12-5 when out-rebounding its opponents.
This is the only regular-season meeting between the Spartans and the Badgers. Overall, Michigan State leads the season series with Wisconsin, 44-25. Last season, the teams met once in the regular season and once in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. During the regular season, the Spartans stopped the Badgers in Madison, 81-57. In the B1G Tournament, MSU came out on top 70-63. Senior Tori Jankoska led all scorers with 22 points, her 19th game this season with 20 or more points. Taya Reimer knocked down her third double-double of the season with 12 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Overall, the Spartans have won 11-straight games in the series.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
This season, the Spartans are 8-5 at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. MSU was a perfect 6-0 in non-conference action and 2-5 in league play. At home, MSU is averaging 76.8 points per game, while allowing 60.5. Two Spartans score in double figures at home, led by redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley, who averages 13.7 ppg. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee (11.7 ppg) has scored in double digits. MSU dominates the boards at home with a rebound margin +8.8.
ANATOMY OF AN UPSET
On Jan. 11, Michigan State earned its first-ever win against Maryland. The Spartans are now 1-10 against the Terps. MSU is just the second team to earn a Big Ten win against Maryland, along with Ohio State which has three wins against UMD. Maryland joined the league in 2015.
LEADING THE STAT LINE
Eleven different Spartans have led the team in scoring in the first 27 games of the season. Sidney Cooks has led the team six times. Shay Colley has been the leader five times, while Branndais Agee has led the team in scoring four times. Jenna Allen and Taryn McCutcheon have been the top scorer three times. Taya Reimer, Kennedy Johnson, Mardrekia Cook, Lexi Gussert and Victoria Gaines have all led the team in scoring.
The Spartans are currently 1-1 in overtime games this season. MSU played its first overtime game of the season with an 83-74 road win over East Tennessee State on Dec. 16. Michigan State lost its second OT game, 71-68 against Iowa on Feb. 1. Last season, the Spartans were 1-2 in overtime games with at home against Western Michigan and road losses to Iowa and Nebraska. Overall, MSU is 33-21 in overtime games.
A LOOK AT THE STANDINGS
Entering the final week of the regular season, Michigan State stands 11th in the Big Ten standings with a 5-9 record. Penn State is just ahead of the Spartans with a 6-8 mark. Maryland and Ohio State are tied for first with 11-3 records, while Minnesota and Nebraska are both tied for third. Northwestern (3-11), Wisconsin (2-13) and Illinois (0-14) are behind MSU in the standings.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 30-51 against ranked teams, including 19-15 at home, 7-21 on the road and 4-15 on a neutral court. As a ranked team against fellow ranked team, MSU is 15-22 versus ranked teams. This season, MSU is 3-5 against ranked teams with a loss to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, and a defeat against Notre Dame, 90-59. MSU defeated No. 22 South Florida, 83-73, on Dec. 21 and upset No. 11 Maryland on the road, 82-68. On Jan. 23, MSU fell to No. 16 Michigan, 74-48, while falling to No. 12 OSU, 78-62 on Jan. 27. On Feb. 8, MSU fell to No. 10 Maryland, 76-68, while defeating No. 21/20 Michigan on Feb. 11, 66-61.
AROUND THE BIG TEN
Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is third in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 5.5 apg. She is behind Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell and Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle. McCutcheon tied a career high with 12 against Iowa on Feb. 1. McCutcheon is tied for ninth in steals with 1.8 spg.
MSU is tied for second in the league assists, averaging 17.9 apg. Iowa is first in the conference in assists with 21.7 apg. Michigan State is fourth in rebound margin (+5.6) and third in steals (9.3 spg). The Spartans are second in the B1G in defensive rebounding percentage (.704) and fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (.375).
COOKS ROOKIE CAMPAIGN
Freshman forward Sidney Cooks posted her seventh double-digit outing in the last 10 games as part of her 14th double-figure scoring game of the season against Penn State on Feb. 4. Cooks has been in a bit of a scoring drought of late with only eight points in the last three games. She is still averaging 10.1 ppg, which is third on the team in scoring.
Cooks is also tied for fifth in the Big Ten in scoring among freshmen 10.1 ppg behind Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam (14.3 ppg), Minnesota’s Destiny Pitts (13.2 ppg), Nebraska’s Taylor Kissinger (10.7 ppg) and Nebraska’s Kate Cain (10.3 ppg). She is tied with Indiana’s Jaelynn Penn. Cooks is fourth among freshmen in rebounding, averaging 5.0 rpg.
DID YOU KNOW?
Michigan State has faced eight ranked teams, standing 3-5 in those contests. The Spartans have risen to the occasion with several players setting career highs against ranked foes. Against No. 2 Notre Dame, junior center Jenna Allen set a new career high with 28 points, the most on the team this season. Against No. 22 South Florida, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley added a career-high with 27 points. Finally, against No. 11 Maryland, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon set a new high with 25 points. Against No. 16 Michigan, Sidney Cooks was one point shy of tying her season high when she scored 17 points. Redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines had a season-high 16 points against Maryland on Feb. 8. In a win against Michigan on Feb. 11, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert tied her season-high with 14 points.
BREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOK
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon has cracked the top 20 in career assists after only 59 games in the Spartan uniform. McCutcheon has 311 career assists for an average of 5.3 assists per game. She passed Spartan great and current graduate assistant Kalisha Keane (2007-11) for 15th with 300 assists. She is now just 11 assists from 14th. Rene Haynes (2003-07) had 322 career assists.
BIG TEN OPENERS
Michigan State is 23-13 in home Big Ten openers in 36 years in the league. This season, the Spartans fell to Rutgers on Dec. 31, 61-58.
Michigan State is 18-18 all-time in Big Ten openers, having won its last five of its last seven ... Under Coach Merchant, the Spartans are 7-4 in Big Ten openers ... MSU earned a dominating 68-46 win over Indiana in Bloomington, 68-46 on Dec. 28 ... This was the first time since the 2011-12 season that the Spartans have opened B1G play with the Hoosiers. MSU captured that game in Bloomington, 63-49.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Senior forward Taya Reimer reached a milestone, passing the 1,000-career point plateau against UConn on Nov. 25. Between her two seasons at Notre Dame and her two at Michigan State, she now has 1,139 career points. She is currently sixth in scoring for the Spartans, averaging 8.0 points per game.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant’s first 11 seasons, the Spartans are 73-31 (70.2%) following a loss.
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 15 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 55-5 (.917) against in-state rivals, including a 40-5 (.889) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 188-60 (.758) against other Michigan schools.
AROUND THE NATION
The Spartans are 12th in the nation in assists with 483 and 12th in assists per game, averaging 17.9. The Spartans are also 35th in rebounds with 1,102. Michigan State is 54th in the nation in rebounds per game (40.8) and 52nd in rebound margin (+5.6). This week, Taryn McCutcheon is 35th in the nation in assists per game (5.5 apg).
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee became the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points with 10 points against No. 1 UConn on Nov. 25. Agee started the week by scoring a season-high 17 points in her hometown against Detroit, bringing her career point total to 991 and going over 1,000 against UConn. She now has 1,191 career points in the Green and White. Agee is averaging 10.2 points through the first 27 games of the season. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan to reach 1,000 points doing so on Nov. 27, 2015.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 170 of their last 178 games (.955) when leading with five minutes left, including 121 of their last 130. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 205-13 (.940) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 13-2.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This was the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.
This season, Michigan State is still eighth in attendance, averaging 6,294 fans per game. They are first in the Big Ten ahead of Purdue (6,009) and Ohio State (5,654). The Spartans had a season-high 12,434 fans against Michigan in the annual Pink Game on Feb. 11.
LAST TIME OUT
Junior center Jenna Allen scored a game-high 19 points as the Michigan State women’s basketball team dropped a Big Ten battle with Nebraska, 79-69, at the Breslin Center on Valentine’s Day night.
The Spartans fall to 15-12 overall and 5-9 in league contests, while Nebraska improves to 19-7 and 10-3 in B1G play.
Allen was one of four Spartans to score in double figures. Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley returned to action after missing seven games with a knee injury to score 15 points, to go along with four rebounds and five assists. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines both added 12 points.
Nebraska was led by 17 points apiece from Hannah Whitish and Nicea Eliely.
The Spartans welcome to their staff three former Michigan State players. Former Big Ten Player of the Year Kalisha Keane and All-Big Ten honorees Jasmine Hines and Annalise Pickrel are all graduate assistants with the Spartans this season.
After hosting a lengthy, four-game homestand, the Spartans will hit the road for one more regular-season game against Purdue on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m.
In head coach Suzy Merchant’s tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. Overall, MSU has scored at least 70 points 12 times overall this season. MSU has won 117 of its last 128 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 134-18 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 11-1 when scoring at least 70.
MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).
Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior.
Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High SchoolDurden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship.
Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons.