Buckeyes’ strong offensive effort hands Spartans first home loss of the year

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Sydney Cooks/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ohio State came into East Lansing on a two-game win streak. They extended that to three in East Lansing on Thursday and handed Michigan State their first home loss of the year by a score of 77-70. The loss ended Michigan State’s perfect home record at 13 on the year and 16 straight dating back to last season. The Spartans dropped to 13-1 at the Breslin Center this season.

The lead went back and forth throughout the game, with 18 total lead changes. No team ever led the other by more than five until the closing moments.

Nia Clouden led the way on offense for MSU, scoring 23 points against the Buckeyes, despite not hitting any shots from deep. She shot 50 percent from the field and added three assists. When asked about the Wolverine rematch on Sunday she had a set goal in mind to start the game with.

“It’ll be a good spark for us,” said Clouden “We came out energized and got a road win so I think it’ll be like that again.”

For Ohio State, they had a big night from Janai Crooms who scored 20 points. It was her highest total since scoring 27 against Penn State on Jan. 17, and second time hitting 20-plus this season. Crooms also added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

Ohio State shot very well against the Spartans,  shooting 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc, making their offense too much for the Spartans to handle.

Michigan State won the rebound battle 43-31, with Allen and Gaines each contributing nine. That has fared well for the Spartans, coming in with a 13-1 record when they win the boards. But it wasn’t enough to beat the potent Buckeye offense.

MSU head coach Suzy Merchant had many thoughts when addressing how her team came out of the gate.

“It’s a mental toughness thing,” Merchant said. “It’s the same thing that got us in the beginning of the year and we’ve added a few more things to try and stop the bleeding.”

Merchant also had strong critiques on her team’s shooting tonight with an optimistic approach.

“We didn’t make those shots tonight, but going forward maybe if we get those looks again down the stretch, we’ll have the confidence to make them.”

Merchant also made comments about moving forward as the regular season is coming to a close, and in-state rival Michigan comes to town.

“Time’s running out. It’s a group that needs to get a little nastier and mentally tougher.”

UP NEXT

Ohio State: Travel to Madison to play Wisconsin a week from today.

Michigan State: Stay in East Lansing to host Michigan on Sunday.