Spartans End Losing Skid in Front of Deafening Breslin Crowd

Spartans+End+Losing+Skid+in+Front+of+Deafening+Breslin+Crowd

Swagger restored.

Saturday night in East Lansing saw a battle of two Big Ten powers in which the No.11 ranked Michigan State Spartans defeated the No.7 ranked Maryland Terrapins 74-65. It was comparable to a heavyweight fight where both teams traded punches until the Spartans ultimately went on a run, and did not look back.

The game started out slow for both teams offensively as neither side scored until the 17:32 mark when senior forward Denzel Valentine scored a lay-up. Immediately after, sophomore guard Melo Trimble of Maryland responded with his own basket. This started a string of Trimble baskets, so much so at one point he had half of the Terps’ points.

Coach Tom Izzo commented on the play of Trimble tonight and this year.

“I think Melo is better than last year. I really do,” Izzo said. “Maybe he does not score as much, though he did tonight. He makes some great plays.”

It could easily be said that the play of senior guard Bryn Forbes is what got MSU the win. Forbes ended up with 25 points, including four from beyond the arc. His first points of the game came on a pull-up jumper from the corner in which he passed on a three he would normally take. Prior to this game Forbes had been in an obvious shooting slump, so a confidence boost was much needed. After the jumper his stroke seemed to be back as he was coming off screens and hitting shots he had been hitting all year. It was clear that his emotions were at a different level, and the team responded the same.

Forbes spoke on his mentality coming into the game.

“I wanted to stay up, but they [the team] kept telling me that I was not going to have another game like that,” Forbes said. “They kept saying it was a big day for me, and was going to be a big game for me.”

Maryland tried to bang down low with the Spartan big men, and for the most part MSU did a great job of responding. The play of senior forward Matt Costello was a big factor as he had seven rebounds in the half, including four offensive boards. The Spartans shut down both freshman centers Diamond Stone and Damonte Dodd Jr., who both had two points for the half, respectively. With great play on both ends, MSU went into the half up 35-29.

The second half saw Trimble start off strong again as he got a three points at the thirty second mark. At this point it seemed MSU was just trying to stop everyone else, and let Trimble do what he wanted. Stepping up for the Terps was junior forward Robert Carter, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds for the game. Carter got into foul trouble and had to be pulled from the game, relieving the Spartans.

Forbes continued his strong play from the first half.  He had twelve points in the second half, bringing an energy that kept the Breslin crowd hungry for more. It is clear he is this team’s emotional leader, and though Valentine is the best player, this team will go far if Forbes plays his best.

As great as Forbes and Valentine played, the effort and play of Costello is what saved the game. Specifically, two game-changing blocks. The first was a block of senior forward Jake Layman, who tried to get a dunk over the 6-9 forward. The other, which stopped a crucial Terp basket, was a streaking block where Costello came from behind to swat a Rasheed Sulaimon attempted lay-up.

Coming into today Costello did not even think he would be on the floor.

“I did not think I would be playing tonight,” Costello said. “But, the Lord just healed my ankle and let it ride. It is going to hurt tonight.”

One could not ignore the bright neon green colored jerseys worn by the Spartans, the color most often worn by the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.

What keeps the ‘Hawks in games is their vaunted “12th man”, or the Seattle crowd. Tonight, the Breslin Center was the Spartans’ 12th man. The atmosphere in the arena was the best seen in years, and helped push the team to a win.

This game takes MSU to 17-4 (4-4 in Big Ten play), while Maryland drops to 17-3 (6-2). The Spartans next game is at Northwestern Thursday at 9 PM.


Key Stats:

Denzel finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists

Costello had 15 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks