MSU breeze past Hillsdale in exhibition


Joe Dandron, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. — With a finally-healthy roster and coming off a sweet-sixteen run in the National Invitational Tournament last winter, the Michigan State women’s basketball team was excited to get to play at the Breslin Center as they matched up with the in-state Hillsdale Chargers on Thursday evening.

The Spartans showed out defensively early, only allowing the Chargers to shoot 31 percent in the first quarter en route to an 88-59 victory.

“Listen, I’m gonna give them a lot of credit,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “That’s a conference champion. They are picked to win it again, I think they went to the quarters of the NCAA (Div. II) tournament and he’s a really good coach. That’s not an easy thing to deal with, I don’t care if they are Division I or II or whatever.”

Hillsdale put up a good fight early, trailing by single digits for much of the first quarter before MSU’s Shay Colley began to showcase all the offseason work that she put in with Team Canada.

Colley effectively took over in the first, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter. But that wasn’t the only caveat early, the Spartan defense got a couple of nice stops that showcased the defensive strength of the squad. Colley finished with a point-rebound-assist stat-line of 15 points-10 rebounds-6 assistson the evening in what could have been a triple-double had she played late.

The Chargers continued to fight, with the MSU lead getting as small as seven midway through the second quarter following a couple of nice 3-pointers from Hillsdale. Hillsdale shot 5-of-12 on 3-pointers in the second to keep the game close.

Michigan State fought off a 17-point Hillsdale second quarter to take a 46-31 lead into the half.

Michigan State expanded on their halftime lead coming out of the break. Senior center Jenna Allen tallied nine points in the quarter, and through three quarters of play, the lone senior had 21 points and nine rebounds in what was an impressive showing in her last, first time playing at the Breslin during the season.

“It’s great, we have the best fans in the country and I truly believe that,” said Allen. “We have all been excited coming off the scrimmage against Notre Dame just to play someone different than ourselves. I thought everybody came out, played hard, and we got the win. That’s all that really matters.”

Although the Spartans only outscored the Chargers by six in the quarter, MSU took a 68-47 lead into the final frame.

Star point guard Taryn McCutcheon had nine points on the night but exited late in the fourth as she went to the locker room with flu-like symptoms.

Hillsdale had some players with strong games as well throughout, with senior Brittany Gray scoring 14 points to lead the team. Guard Allie DeWire also had a nice showing for the Chargers, scoring 10 points.

With the Spartans leading big late, senior Jenna Allen recorded her first double-double of the season. After a couple of nice layups from MSU guard Nia Holden and a layup from sophomore Claire Hendrickson, the Spartans began to really pull away for good.

The Spartans used a big fourth quarter in which they scored 20 points to put it away for good as they finished off the Chargers. The Spartans were led in scoring by Allen, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

The Spartans finished the game shooting 49.3 percent from the field and will match up with Bowling Green next Tuesday at home to open up the regular season.