Three quick takeaways from Spartans’ victory over Illinois


Nia Clouden dribbles in the Spartans 79-67 loss to No. 16 Indiana/ Photo Credit: Indiana Athletics

Sean Mullen, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING— After falling to Nebraska by four points last Sunday, the Spartans looked to rebound against a struggling Illinois squad.

The Spartans were able to do just that, as they put a beating on the Illini with a final score of 81-60. Junior guard Nia Clouden was instrumental in the Spartans’ success, as she put up 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Here are three quick takeaways from the Spartan victory.

1. Ball movement drove the offense

The ball movement the Spartans showed was incredible. Although Clouden had 28 points, eight other Spartans found themselves with five or more. The team was able to dish out 18 assists, with Clouden finishing with a team-high of five.

Ball movement should be a major key going forward for the Spartans’ success, as the team had plenty of open looks vs. Illinois which led to an impressive shooting night for the Spartans. 

After coming out in the second half sluggishly, the Spartans found themselves going the last 4:08 of the third quarter without a basket. Illinois capitalized on this, cutting the Spartan lead to just 14. This leads right into the next big takeaway.

2. The Spartans slammed the door

Instead of playing timidly, the Spartans came out in the fourth quarter as the same team they were in the first half. The defensive intensity picked up, and the Spartans capitalized on the offensive end by beginning the quarter on a 10-0 run. The Spartans outscored the Illini by seven in the fourth quarter, which is something they will need to do to other opponents as the Big Ten schedule heats up in the coming weeks. 

3. Winning the rebounding battle

Another important aspect of the win was the Spartans’ ability to crash the glass. Michigan State corralled 42 total rebounds against the Illini, with 13 of those coming on the offensive end. With Illinois only garnering 34 rebounds, the Spartans’ ability to out-rebound teams will be crucial going forward. 

With three Spartan starters grabbing over five rebounds, team rebounding was the theme against Illinois. With everyone doing their part on the glass, it gives the Spartans a good chance against some of the Big Ten’s premier teams. 

Michigan State will be back in action Sunday, as they take on Big Ten preseason player of the year Lindsey Pulliam and Northwestern. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

Follow Sean Mullen on Twitter at @seanmullen_.