Spartans get dominated in paint and on scoreboard vs. Michigan, 89-69

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Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Bobby Zefero, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

ANN ARBOR — At the conclusion of what most students would tell you is a much needed winter break, fans were treated to a heated rivalry game, for the first three quarters, in the Crisler Center between Michigan State and Michigan women’s basketball.

Right off the bat, you could feel the electricity in the air. The MSU faithful made a lot of noise whenever the Spartans made a bucket, but the Michigan crowd was even louder. The game started  with a Taryn McCutcheon 3-pointer, but quickly after Nia Clouden picked up her second foul a little under a minute into the first quarter, putting the Spartans’ top scorer on the bench for most of the first.

McCutcheon had a great first quarter with eight points on 2-of-4 from the field, but the Spartans found themselves down 17-20 at the end of the first. Michigan dominated the boards in the quarter, out-rebounding the Spartans 14-8. The Wolverines were fighting for rebounds and made their presence felt inside.

The second quarter was an even quarter in the scorebook, with both teams scoring 15 points. Michigan State flipped the script in the rebound department, actually outrebounding the Wolverines 7-6. 

In the third, the Wolverines were white hot, hitting their first ten shots and not missing until under a minute left in the quarter. They finished the quarter 11-of-12 from the field, but MSU kept pace, shooting 11-of-16 from the field.

 But the Spartans found themselves down by four heading into the fourth thanks to a last second 3-pointer from Amy Dilk, who quietly had 17 points through three quarters on 7-of-9 shooting.

With the score being 63-59 favoring the Wolverines heading into the fourth, they began the fourth quarter continuing right where they left off, starting the quarter on a 13-0 run. Couple that with MSU shooting 21.4 percent in the quarter (3-of-14) and you get the result that occurred. 

Michigan had worn down Michigan State inside, and that really showed in the fourth and in the final scorecard, with the Wolverines outscoring the Spartans in the paint 54-34. MSU could not match Michigan’s physicality down low, and the wear and tear of facing that style for a whole game showed in the fourth quarter.

Both Naz Hillmon and Amy Dilk had outstanding games for the Wolverines, with Hillmon tallying 21 points (7-of-15 from the floor) and 12 rebounds, and Dilk contributing 23 points on 10-of-13 from the field. 

Taryn McCutcheon was the leading scorer for the Spartans with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. The Michigan State women’s team has its next game Thursday, Jan.9 on the road against the Penn State Nittany Lions.  

Contact Bobby Zefero at zefferor@msu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @BigSportsGuyBob.