IOWA CITY, Iowa â€“ The Michigan State womenâ€™s basketball team started fast and never trailed en route to a decisive 88-72 victory at Iowa on Thursday night. The Spartans (12-5), who have won six-straight overall and are alone in first place at 4-0 in the Big Ten, picked up a victory in Iowa City for the first time since 2007. It was the lone meeting of the season between MSU and Iowa (14-5, 2-3).
Five Spartans scored in double figures, led by 20 points from redshirt freshman Aerial Powers. Powers was 7-for-9 from the field, also adding eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Freshman Tori Jankoska poured in 19 points off the bench in 25 minutes, hitting all three of her 3-pointers, and adding three assists with no turnovers.
Senior Annalise Pickrel was also hot from behind the arc, going 4-for-6, as she totaled 16 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Classmate Klarissa Bell had a solid night with 12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior Kiana Johnson orchestrated the Spartan offense with eight assists, while adding 10 points and three steals.
The Spartans began the night by hitting seven of their first nine shots to open up a 15-8 lead at the first media timeout (15:32). The two teams would match possessions until MSU ran off 11-straight points, including 8-in-a-row from Jankoska, over a 3-minute span to open up a 20-point lead (38-18) with 6:11 until halftime. Michigan State would keep up the offensive efficiency, ending the half on a Becca Mills jumper to go into the break ahead 49-28.
MSU shot 54.3% from the field, including 5-for-9 (55.6%) from 3-point, in the first half.
Iowa attempted to get back into the game in the early minutes of the second half, cutting the deficit to 15 (57-42) with 13:38 to go. However, Michigan State quieted the crowd by going on a 14-2 run over the next 3:50 to put its stamp on the night. The Spartan lead would grow to as high as 29, before the Hawkeyes chipped away in the final minutes.
The Spartans return home to face No. 16/17 Penn State on Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
– Michigan State starts 4-0 in the Big Ten for the fifth time (1987-88, 1989-90, 2010-11, 2012-13).
– It is just the third time in program history (1987-88, 2006-07) that MSU won its first three Big Ten road games. The Spartans and Purdue were the only two Big Ten schools to open the season with three of their first four games on the road.
– MSUâ€™s 88 points were its most in a Big Ten regular season game since scoring 101 vs. Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2005.
– It was the eighth time that Michigan State has scored at least 80 points, the most since 2004-05 and the fifth-most all-time.
– MSU shot 50% from the field for the sixth time this season, the most since 2011-12.
– The Spartans are now 12-0 when shooting more free throws than their opponent.
– The win was MSUâ€™s 73rd Big Ten win under Coach Merchant, tying Ohio State for the most in the conference in her seven seasons.
– MSU is now 34-20 in Big Ten road game under Coach Merchant, the most wins in the conference during her tenure.
– With her four 3-pointers, Pickrel moved into eighth place on the MSU career list with 117.
– With her eight assists, Johnson is now 12th all-time at MSU with 326 career assists.
– It was the third time this season that the Spartans had five players score in double digits.
– It was Powersâ€™ fourth 20-point game of the season, tying her for the third most by a Spartan freshman.
– Johnson has led MSU in assists in 10 of her last 12 games. In those 12 games, she has totaled 83 assists and only 20 turnovers.
– The Spartans held Iowa to only 10 assists, as the Hawkeyes entered the game first in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation with 18.9 per game.
– MSU held Iowa to 1-for-13 shooting from 3-point. The Hawkeyes were third in the Big Ten with 7.1 per game entering the night.
– Michigan State held a +15 (44-29) rebound advantage.
– It was head coach Suzy Merchantâ€™s first win in Iowa City, having lost her previous four attempts.