Spartans Top Boilermakers, Move Into Third Place Tie in Big Ten

If there is a time for a team to hit their stride, that time is now.

The No. 18 ranked Michigan State women’s basketball team played a pivotal conference game Wednesday night  at Breslin against  Purdue , winning 68-56. The win pushes MSU (15-4, 6-2 in Big Ten) into a tie for third place with the Boilermakers (15-5, 6-3).

The Spartans came into today having not played a game in eight days, due to their contest against Maryland getting postponed due to weather. Even with the extra time off, the team showed no rust as they went on a 7-2 run to start the game. Playing particularly well in the first quarter was junior forward Aerial Powers, who had seven of the team’s first twelve points.

The forward commented on her great start to the game.

“I just knew we would have to start off really aggressive, and I told myself before the game that I wanted to do that,” Powers said. “We usually start off flat, and I knew that we would be tied for third with them (Purdue) if we won, so we needed to step up our game.”

Coming into today, junior Tori Jankoska had moved into twelfth on the Spartan all-time scoring list. She looked to continue moving up as she came out firing from deep, with all nine of her first half points coming from beyond the arc. In the middle of the first, she sunk a 25-footer that got the Breslin crowd going. What was more impressive was her buzzer-beater to end the first quarter, which was over two defenders and just as deep as the first.

MSU outplayed Purdue in every statistical category on both ends of the floor. What was noticeably impressive was the fact that the Spartans held the Boilermakers to shooting 16.7% from three, which is well below what they usually hold teams to. This, along with forcing seven Purdue turnovers, gave them a first half lead of 37-24.

MSU came out of the half showing no signs of slowing down as they, at one point, pushed their lead to twenty over Purdue. They scored sixteen points in the third quarter alone, and had Purdue looking confused on offense as the Spartans played stifling defense. During the quarter senior Cara Miller came into the game after not having played all game, and forced a Boilermaker turnover; showing how this team is ready no matter the circumstance.

Coach Suzy Merchant felt the team could have played much better in the third, and discussed it after the game.

“We were getting hit by screens a little too much and relying on ‘Hey somebody else take my man’,” Merchant said. “I do not think we were working as hard as we could have.

The fourth quarter was the worst of all periods as the Spartans allowed twenty-one points to Purdue. Coach Merchant sat Jankoska and Powers most of the quarter as they had a large enough lead to do so.

This win by MSU comes at a great time as they are now tied for third in the Big Ten with Purdue. Their next stretch of games is important as they continue Big Ten Play in hopes to get a high enough seed, and potential bye, come Big Ten Tournament time.

The Spartans next game is Sunday at Wisconsin at 4 P.M. The game will be on Big Ten Network Plus.