After a close upset at home against No. 5 Maryland, the Spartans were back home Sunday afternoon against No. 19 Rutgers for Senior Day and Play 4 Kay Day.
Seniors Becca Mills, Madison Williams, Anna Morrissey, Kendra Lumpkin and Kelsey Kuipers were honored after the game.
Williams took her first start of the season to jump the ball. Williams has been out all season with a torn ACL. Within five seconds of the start of the game, Williams committed an off the ball foul and emotionally kissed the floor, and that was a wrap on her career as a Spartan.
“I was hoping I could dress. I wanted to wear my jersey one more time. It means a lot to me to wear the Spartan jersey. Getting to do it one last time it was kind of shocking,” Williams said. “I felt so honored to have this journey. I hopefully left a lasting legacy here regardless of how much I played.”
Aerial Powers entered the game only being 14 points away from tying former Spartan, Liz Shimek’s single-season scoring record of 597 points.
Despite Rutgers being ranked No. 19 with a record of 20-6 and 11-4 in the Big Ten, Michigan
State held the lead for 37 minutes of the game. The Spartans dominated and upset Rutgers 60-50.
“This is probably the most proud of the group I have ever been to be honest with you. I have never seen anything like it,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I have never seen anything like the things they have been able to accomplish with the limitations that they have. I am really really proud of them.”
Entering into the second half, Rutgers went on a 6-0 run and all the Spartans were racking up were turnovers.
Morrissey broke the the Scarlet Knights’ run by knocking down a three-pointer to make the score 30-24 with 17 minutes left in the second half.
Mills scored on a huge offensive rebound that gave MSU their largest lead of the game by 14 points with eight minutes left in the second half.
“It was exciting. I have been kind of thinking about it a lot this past week, and I think today I was more just excited and wanted to have fun out there and kind of live in the moment,” Mills said. “It was awesome to get the win. It was all I could ask for. I was the most emotional when I had to leave for the last time. These last four years have just been so much fun.”
Mills played in every single game except one in her four years at Michigan State. The one game she did not play in was her first ever game against Michigan because she was battling a knee injury.
Jankoska was the leading scorer for the Spartans with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Powers ended the game with 18 points and 18 rebounds, breaking the single-season double-doubles record and the single-season scoring record all in one game. Powers now has 20 double-doubles and 600 points so far this season.
“I didn’t even think about it during the game. I was just thinking about our win, but I am happy,” remarked Powers on her two milestones.
The leading scorers for the Scarlet Knights were Kahleah Copper with 20 points and Betnijah Laney with 14 points.
“I am proud our kids stayed in the fight. Every coach that has come in here has talked about how hard we fight and how our kids play so hard, and they have never seen a team battle like that with only seven players basically,” Merchant said. “The credit goes to these kids to be honest with you. They have been finding ways to put themselves into positions to be successful. It was nice to finally get the win and to play that hard and come out with a victory.”
Michigan State heads on the road for their last two games of the regular season to face Illinois Feb. 25 at 8 p.m and Purdue Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. Those two games will conclude their regular season. Next, they will head to the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois for the Big Ten Tournament March 4-8.
Sophia Busk is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: Sophia Busk/Impact Sports