Spartans back on track with win over Minnesota

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Nia Clouden/MSU Athletic Communications

Aidan Champion, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State women’s basketball team’s victory over Minnesota came slowly, but surely at the Breslin Center on Monday night. 

The Spartans’ 66-54 win put them above .500 overall, and 6-8 in Big Ten play. A new winning streak was just what the team needed to get back on track as the regular season winds down. Minnesota came into the game seeking a statement victory as well, coming off two straight losses.

Neither team seemed to find a scoring groove in the first quarter, as both the Spartans and the Gophers made just five field goals each. MSU ended the quarter up by two, though, and allowed Minnesota to take the lead just once in the second quarter, only to regain it with a 3-pointer from freshman guard Moira Joiner. 

The Spartans entered halftime with a 31-27 advantage. Sophomore guard, Nia Clouden, led the Spartans’ first half scoring with eight points.

With less than a minute gone in the third, sophomore guard Tory Ozment, forced Minnesota to take its first timeout of the half, as she came out with a quick five points, improving the Spartans’ lead to nine. MSU later increased its lead to 13 after two made free throws from Clouden. Clouden finished the quarter with eight points, tying her first half total. 

The Spartans headed to the fourth quarter with a 52-45 lead. Their first made baskets of the quarter came from freshman forward Julia Ayrault, who drilled two 3-pointers and one mid-range shot. Her efforts came from off the bench and resulted in 14 points for the game.

“Just for our team to kind of have energy and just keep it rolling on the defensive end, especially,” Ayrault said. “We had — I don’t know how many — but a bunch of possessions in a row where we got stops. That’s kind of what pushed us forward.”

Clouden’s 16 points through the first three quarters would be her total for the game, but were still enough to crown her the Spartans’ leading scorer on the night. She also grabbed 10 rebounds, earning her a double-double.

“I try to be aggressive, especially lately, so we can get back to winning, and scoring is a big part of that,” Clouden said. “So I try to be aggressive and set other people up as well.”

Joiner was one point shy of joining Clouden with a double-double.

MSU will look to extend its winning streak when the Spartans play Purdue on the road at Mackey Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Aidan Champion is a general assignment reporter for Impact 89FM WDBM. Follow him on Twitter at @champion_aidan.