Colley, Cooks and McCutcheon lead Spartans past Purdue

Nathan Stearns, General Assignment Reporter

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EAST LANSING, Mich. –  The trio of Shay Colley, Sidney Cooks and Taryn McCutcheon treated the large crowd gathered at the Breslin Center this Sunday to an old-fashioned Big Ten slugfest. Behind the three-pronged offensive attack of Colley, Cooks and McCutcheon, the Spartans remained undefeated at home, as they vanquished the 15-8 Purdue Boilermakers in a wire-to-wire win.

With Jenna Allen having a bit of an off night from the floor, the Spartans’ supporting cast picked up the slack on the offensive end. Sidney Cooks, the Kenosha, Wisconsin native, led the Spartans offensive attack with 20 points and seven rebounds. Shay Colley, one of the Spartans upperclassmen leaders, led all players in assists, as she ended the game with 20 points and six helpers.  

Taryn McCutcheon hit several key threes during the late stages of the game en route to a 12 point and four assist night. The win came on Pink Day, which honores breast cancer survivors and aims to raise breast cancer awareness, making the victory especially rewarding for the team.

‘’It was our pink game. It means a lot when we can just go out there and play for something for more than just ourselves,” sophomore guard Sidney Cooks said. “That also motivated me on the court tonight, not only doing it for myself.”

The Spartans looked like a team on a mission early, as they shot 53 percent from the floor in the opening half. Combined with a 42 percent shooting performance from downtown, Purdue often looked lost on the defensive end of the floor, especially as Michigan State ran up and down the floor in transition with ease.

The focal point of the Boilermakers’ offense in the first quarter was dumping the ball down in the post to Ae’Rianna Harris. This led to a 10-point outburst from Harris, who was the only consistent offensive weapon for the Boilermakers. Allen and the swarming Spartan defense held Harris scoreless in the second quarter, which led to a 41-26 Spartan lead at halftime.

After a 6-0 Purdue run out of halftime, Cooks hit a key jumper to stop the Boilermakers’ offensive momentum. Despite various runs for Purdue, key shots and free throw makes from McCutcheon, as well as Cooks and Colley in the waning moments of the game buried Purdue.

Despite the win, a concerning trend emerged throughout the game for Michigan State, as Purdue was able to cut the MSU lead down to a single possession and eventually a tie late in the second half, due in large part to several second and third chance opportunities. For the game, the Spartans grabbed ten fewer offensive rebounds than the Boilermakers (19-9).

“A big part of the game plan was to keep their fours and fives, and than (Odom) is a really good rebounder,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “The whole third quarter, we were fouling and letting them get second chance opportunities.”

After defeating Purdue, MSU is now on a three-game conference win streak and owns four wins out of its last five games.

According to Colley, beating archrival Michigan has given the Spartans much needed confidence as they head into the gauntlet of their Big Ten Schedule. Three out of the next four games will be on the road for the Spartans.

“The momentum from the Michigan State game at Michigan was a huge win for us, because that was our first road win of the season,” Colley said.

Colley and company will face yet another Big Ten team with a winning conference record, as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes away from the friendly confines of the Breslin this coming Thursday at 9 p.m. Iowa currently boasts the No. 13 ranking in the country and a 7-3 record in conference. If the Spartans are able to knock off Iowa, they will improve to 7-4 in conference play and will be in the driver’s seat to get a top seed for the Big Ten Tournament in March.