Three takeaways from MSU’s Big Ten Tournament win over Penn State


Tory Ozment looks for an open teammate as Penn State guard Maddie Burke guards her/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Owen Oszust, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

INDIANAPOLIS — After a convincing win against Wisconsin on Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans headed to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to start their journey in the Big Ten Tournament. They started out their first game against a Penn State team that had dropped three in a row.

The Spartans had a really strong performance against Penn State with a 75-66 victory to advance to the next round to play Indiana on Thursday. Lots of Spartans had big performances to lead MSU to victory. 

The first takeaway for Wednesday’s game was that Alyza Winston has officially blossomed into a star for Michigan State. Winston had 23 points and nailed five 3-pointers in a performance that was much needed.

Winston barely had an impact last season for the Spartans but has definitely made tremendous strides this season. She was given the opportunity to start, given the Moira Joiner injury, and capitalized on it.

When MSU junior guard Nia Clouden struggles, it seems to always be Winston that fills that void for the Spartans and steps up in a big way. The backcourt has been what the Spartans live and die by throughout this season. 

Clouden contributed 18 points and seemed to return to form just in time for the tournament. The Spartans need Winston and Clouden to score in double digits every game of the Big Ten Tournament if they hope to continue advancing. 

The second takeaway was that Michigan State didn’t give up after a tough first quarter. Things didn’t look good for the Spartans when they ended the opening quarter down 24-18. It seemed as though MSU didn’t have the same energy as Penn State right out of the gate.

Janai Crooms celebrates after nailing a 3-pointer in the Spartans’ 75-66 win over Penn State/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

The Spartans put together a strong second quarter in which they made five three-pointers and outscored Penn State 17-11 to tie the game heading into halftime. The Nittany Lions made eight three-pointers in the first half, but that didn’t seem to phase the Spartans. MSU stayed with Penn State the entire half even when momentum wasn’t in their favor.

The final takeaway for Michigan State was that if there was any doubt that they would make the NCAA tournament, those doubts have been erased. According to ESPN, the Spartans were listed at a 10 seed that will only increase after the win over Penn State. 

“I felt that we were an NCAA team before this game, but you can definitely sleep better tonight after the win,” said Suzy Merchant.

If Michigan State can play all four quarters like its second-half performance against Penn State, the Spartans have a chance to upset the Indiana Hoosiers in the next round. The last time MSU and Indiana played, the Hoosiers came out on top with a 79-67 victory. Michigan State took a lead into halftime but got badly outscored 46-26 in the second half and let the game slip away.

Michigan State will be back in action tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., as the Spartans take on Rutgers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the third round of the Big Ten Tournament.