EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State women’s basketball team used a strong second half to pull away from Minnesota 66-51 to win its Big Ten opener tonight at Breslin Center. The Spartans improve to 13-1 overall, while the Golden Gophers fall to 11-4.
Bench production was key for Michigan State, as Jasmine Hines, Kiana Johnson and Akyah Taylor combined for 35 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson led the way with 17 points, adding four assists (no turnovers) and three steals. Hines was 7-for-11 from the field for 15 points. Klarissa Bell added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Jasmine Thomas posted seven points, eight rebounds, a game-high five assists and two steals.
Michigan State trailed by as much as six in the first half, but closed the half on a 7-2 run to go into halftime tied at 20. The Spartans posted the first five points of the second half and would eventually go up eight (38-30) with 12:35 left. The Golden Gophers scored the next nine points to retake the lead at 39-38 with 9:26 to go. However, MSU quickly responded with a 10-2 run of their own to go back ahead and would not look back. The Spartans would go on to score 46 second half points, shooting 57.1% from the field.
Minnesota entered the game first in the Big Ten in scoring with 74.8 points per game, including 85.8 points over its last four games. The Spartan defense held them to 33.3% from the field, including a 3-for-11 (27.3%) effort from behind the arc. MSU was +12 (45-33) on the glass, even though the Golden Gophers entered the game with a +4.9 margin.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday, hosting No. 9 Penn State at 2:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.
– Michigan State improves to 13-1 for just the second time in program history (2010-11).
– MSU won its third straight Big Ten opener and even its record at 16-16 all-time. Coach Merchant is 4-2 in Big Ten openers. The Spartans are now 22-10 in their first Big Ten home game.
– The Spartans have won 35 of its last 44 Big Ten games (79.5%).
– Michigan State has held each opponent below its season scoring average. Minnesota entered the game averaging 74.8 points (first in the Big Ten and 23rd in the nation). MSU has held nine of its last 11 opponents over 20 points fewer than their average.
– Even though barely, MSU has held each opponent’s leading scorer below their season average. Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 21 points on 9-for-24 shooting, after entering the game first in the Big Ten with 21.4 ppg.
– MSU’s last 11 opponents are 35-for-171 (20.5%) from the 3-point line.
– The Spartans had only three second half turnovers and just 12 for the game. Minnesota was forcing 17.7 turnovers per game this season.
– MSU improves to 10-0 when Jasmine Hines scores in double figures in her career.
– Hines tied her career high with seven field goals made.
– Hines played a career high 26 minutes.
– Kiana Johnson went 9-for-9 from the free throw line. It was the most makes by a Spartan this season and the most in her career.
– Johnson’s 17 points were the second most in her career, one shy of her career high.
– Akyah Taylor set career highs with three points and six rebounds (three offensive) in a career high 13 minutes.
– Michigan State won its 11th straight game at Breslin Center and has won 39 of its last 43 games.
– MSU is now 101-9 (91.8%) when holding its opponent under 60 points under Coach Merchant.
– Michigan State improves to 37-20 all-time against Minnesota, having won five of the last six meetings. MSU is now 20-7 all-time against the Gophers in East Lansing. Merchant improves to 6-5 against UM.
– It is the lone meeting between MSU and Minnesota this season.