Two days after the Spartan and Hawkeye men’s teams faced off, the women’s teams took the floor in a Big Ten battle.
Michigan State (13-3, 3-2 B1G) looked to bounce back from a 81-65 loss to Indiana last Wednesday, and they did just so with a 80-73 win over Iowa (13-4, 3-2 B1G).
A quick three-point field-goal from Tori Jankoska to start the game brought life to the No. 18 MSU women’s basketball team and the packed house that filled the Breslin Center.
After going back and forth the first 15 minutes, the Hawkeyes slowly took control of the game, dominating on the offensive end of the floor as they went on to make 12 of 20 field goals, including six of eight from 3-point range in the first half.
Sloppy play on offense for MSU and Iowa’s above average shooting hampered any attempts of a comeback before the end of the half.
As the clock was winding down to end the half, Brandais Agee hit a crucial three to breath some life back into the Spartans.
“It was really big,” Aerial Powers said. “Our confidence was down. It felt like nothing was going our way. For her to hit that shot – that helped us.”
With a 36-23 score at halftime, it looked like the Michigan State basketball program was in line to take their third loss to the Hawkeyes within 17 days.
“We just settled in the first half for bad shots,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “There’s a difference between the first shot available and the best one achievable.”
Defense was preached in the locker room at halftime, and the result was obvious.
MSU’s defense forced Iowa’s shooting percentage to come back to Earth, only allowing 36 percent from the field – almost half of their first half numbers.
Agee was asked about MSU’s slow start.
“Just a couple games we started off very flat,” Agee said. “We’ve learned from that and we’re going to continue to grow from that. We’re not going to do that again…at all.”
The Spartans did not have the lead since 2:41 was left in the first quarter, and it was not until the eight minute mark in the fourth quarter that they were able to regain that lead.
What was the biggest difference between the first and second halves? How did MSU get the lead back?
Simple answer: Aerial Powers.
Powers struggled offensively in the first, only making one of six field goal attempts. In the second half, Powers tallied 21 of her 23 total points.
Before the start of the second half, Aerial’s dad told her how he thought she had played.
“He told me I was playing soft,” Powers said. “He told me I was talking too many outside shots and I needed to rebound more, so I did what he told me.”
Coach Merchant commented on how the preseason All-American responded in the second half.
“That’s kind of what great players do,” Merchant said. “She didn’t settle, she really attacked. I kept telling them to drive the ball…she’s virtually unguardable in those situations.”
Behind Powers, Michigan State withheld any Iowa comebacks and finished the game going 16 of 19 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
With the win, MSU is now 13-4 and 4-2 in the Big Ten. They also jump to 4th in the B1G women’s basketball standings.
The next game for the Spartans is home versus Rutgers on Tuesday, Jan, 23 at 6 p.m. Rutgers is in the middle of the B1G standings (12-6 overall, 3-3 B1G). They are coming off of a one point, 65-64 loss to Nebraska on Saturday.