EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ The Michigan State womenâ€™s basketball team held off Wisconsin on Thursday night for a 71-67 victory at the Breslin Center. The Spartan (14-7) remain alone in second place in the Big Ten at 6-2 at the midway point of conference play. Five Spartans scored in double digits in the balanced offense attack.
Michigan State scored the first nine points and never trailed on the night. The Spartans lead grew to 12 (19-7) with 9:42 to go in the first, as MSU made eight of its first 14 shots. Wisconsin (9-11, 2-6) slowly chipped away, getting within two (25-23) after an 8-0 run late in the half. The Spartans went into the break with a 30-27 lead.
The second half was tight for much of the half, as the Badgers tied it up at 49 with 10:52 left. Over the next four-plus minutes, the Spartans scored seven unanswered to gain the lead back. The MSU advantage rose back up to nine on two occasions, but the Badgers kept fighting getting back within three with under a minute to go. However, the Spartans held off the late surge for the 71-67 final.
Senior Annalise Pickrel led the Spartans in points (14), rebounds (8) and assists (4). Junior Becca Mills added 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting, while freshmen Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers each had 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Junior Kiana Johnson had 11 points and tied Pickrel with four assists off the bench.
The Spartans shot 49.1% from the field.
Michigan State remains home to host No. 19/16 Purdue on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
– The Spartans have won five-straight over the Badgers and are 39-25 all-time in the series.
– Klarissa Bell had a career-high four steals tonight.
– MSU improves to 14-0 when shooting more free throws than its opponent.
– The Spartans are now 69-5 under Coach Merchant when scoring at least 70 points.
– Michigan State has now won 94 of its last 95 games, including 45 in a row, when leading with five minutes left.
– MSUâ€™s 10 turnovers was its second fewest this season.