Michigan State prepares for its regular season concluding stretch against Purdue

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Nia Clouden attempts a jumpshot in the Spartans’ road loss to No. 7 Maryland/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Aidan Champion, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING — The fate of Michigan State’s women’s basketball team rests in its own hands. A few key wins down the final stretch of the Spartans’ regular season could put them in a safe position when they enter the Big Ten tournament in hopes of securing a spot in the NCAA tournament. Their quest starts on Sunday at home against the Purdue Boilermakers, whom MSU defeated on Jan. 3 at Mackey Arena.

The Spartans dominated the first half in the two teams’ first matchup this season, and they held a 14-point lead at the break. Purdue crept back into the game in the second half, making for a more interesting in-conference contest. Ultimately, it was junior guard Nia Clouden who made the difference in the latter part of the game, as she scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Other notable performances included senior forward Alisia Smith, who finished the game with 15 points in just her second game with the Spartans. Sophomore guard Julia Ayrault also scored in double-digits with 10 points. 

Purdue is currently on a six-game losing streak, including blowouts against two ranked teams in No. 11 Michigan and No. 15 Ohio State. 

What to look for

Nia Clouden

In MSU’s most recent game against No. 11 Michigan, Clouden achieved a career-high in scoring with 34 points. With her performance, she also moved up to No. 21 on the MSU all-time career scoring list. Clouden is just nine points away from joining the company of the top-20.

A resume boost

The Spartans are just 2-2 in the month of February, and a win on Sunday would put them above .500 on the month. Depending on how MSU finishes its play in February, a winning record this month could be huge for a team that went just 2-4 in January.

Alyza Winston

Sophomore guard Alyza Winston is coming off an impressive outing against the 11th-ranked team in the nation. She put up 18 points, her first time scoring 15-plus points since Dec. 18. in a win over Central Michigan. As she’s returned to scoring in double-digits in back-to-back performances, be on the lookout for another big game against a team that is ranked 10th in scoring defense in the Big Ten.

The matchup starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Breslin Center and can be viewed on the Big Ten Network. This game will also be MSU’s annual Pink Game.

Follow Aidan Champion on Twitter @champion_aidan.