It’s Brionna Jones’ world, we’re just living in it.
This was the way it felt in the Breslin Center for most of Sunday afternoon as Jones and No. 3 Maryland defeated Michigan State 89-72 in their annual Play4Kay game.
The first quarter was a rough one for the Spartans as they struggled to find their groove on the offensive end. Spartan guard Tori Jankoska only came away with five points and shot 2-of-6 from the field. Defense was also a problem for the Spartans as Maryland shot 73 percent from the field as a team. Guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and center Jones lit the Spartans up for 11 and eight points respectively. Although Maryland shot well from the field, the Spartans forced some turnovers and only found themselves down 25-19 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Jones continued her excellent play as she had seven points in the quarter alone. The Spartans picked it up offensively in the quarter, improving their field goal percentage from 47 percent to 56 percent. Jankoska found her shot in the second scoring eight points. She also eclipsed the 2,000 career scoring mark in the quarter, becoming the first MSU women’s basketball player to do so.
“I figured she would score at least two points tonight, so I had a good chance. If she didn’t we would have lost by 50 points. It was an opportunity and a really cool thing tonight, and it’s a big deal,” Coach Suzy Merchant about her star guard reaching the 2,000 career points mark.
Despite Jankoska’s achievement, the Spartans still found themselves down 51-40 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Spartans were unable to buy a bucket, they shot just 25 percent from the field and 16 percent from the free throw line. They only scored nine points in the third frame. The Terps offense slowed down, but due to the Spartans offensive problems they maintained their double-digit lead, 67-49 heading into the fourth.
In the final frame, the Spartans picked up the intensity on both ends of the floor, forcing turnovers and hitting shots. At one point the lead was cut to 12, but a turnover and a Jones basket and a foul stopped the momentum. Ultimately, the Terps held on and got the win.
For the Terps, Brionna Jones finished with a game high 28 points, and added 15 rebounds. Walker-Kimbrough added 24 points.
For the Spartans, Jankoska finished with 23 points, five rebounds and five assists. Taya Reimer added 11 points and Branndais Agee chipped in with 16 points.
Although the Spartans took the loss, Jankoska was able to find some positives from the game.
“We played with energy. We stuck together the whole game. We did some good things. We moved the ball on offense. In the second half our defense was much better. We limited their offensive rebounds from what they normally get. Obviously we would rather win. There were definitely some good things about the game. We have to improve in some areas too” she said.
Following the loss, the Spartans fall to 16-9 overall, 6-6 in the Big Ten. They will look to bounce back against Minnesota on Feb. 16 at the Breslin.