EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ The Breslin Center careers of the two Spartan seniors Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel ended in celebration on Sunday night, as the No. 21 Michigan State womenâ€™s basketball team beat Indiana, 76-56, to earn a share of the Big Ten Regular-Season Championship.Â It was the fourth conference regular season title in program history.
The Spartans (21-8) ended conference play at 13-3 to tie Penn State for the title. MSU earned the No. 2-seed in the 2014 Big Ten Tournament and will face the winner of Michigan and Indiana on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Bell and Pickrel book-ended their careers with Big Ten Championships and become the first class to win two conference titles. Also, head coach Suzy Merchant becomes the first Spartan coach to claim two Big Ten regular-season championships.
Although it was a night for the seniors, it was redshirt freshman Aerial Powers who put on an offensive show. Powers had her eighth double-double, posting a game-high 23 points, to go along with 10 rebounds, a career-high six assists, three steals and two blocks. Fellow freshman Tori Jankoska added 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Pickrel scored 14 points and had seven rebounds on Senior Night.
Indiana led early 5-2, but the Spartans ran off the next eight points to take a lead it wouldnâ€™t give up. A 9-0 run midway through the first half, pushed the lead up to double digits and MSU would go into the break with a 38-26 lead.
After matching baskets on their first two possessions of the second half, Michigan State pretty much put the game away with another nine unanswered points to grow the lead to 21 (49-28) with 16:29 left.Â The Spartans lead grew to as many as 28, before settling at the 76-56 final.
– MSU previously won Big Ten regular season titles in 1997, 2005 and 2011.
– Michigan State ended up leading the Big Ten in conference games in scoring defense (62.3), field goal percentage defense (38.6%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.9%), scoring margin (+10.3). The Spartans were also second in rebound margin (+7.5) and field goal percentage (45.3%).
– The Spartans have led the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed in four of the last five seasons.
– Michigan Stateâ€™s 13 Big Ten wins ties for the second most in program history.
– With 401 points this season, Powers has now scored the third-most points ever by a Spartan freshman. She also moved into sixth on the MSU freshman assist list with 70.
– Powers now has six 20-point games this season, a new record for an MSU freshman.
– Jankoska moved up to sixth-place on the MSU freshman scoring list (367).
– Jasmine Hines had a season-high 11 rebounds tonight.
– MSU won its eighth-straight game over Indiana.
– The Spartans are 18-0 this season when shooting more free throws than their opponents.