Michigan State Spartans Advance in B1G Tournament with Win Over Northwestern

Michigan State Spartans Advance in B1G Tournament with Win Over the Northwestern Wildcats

Here is a breakdown of the Spartans win from Kara Fisher the MSU SID. The photo is also courtesy of the MSU SID.

INDIANAPOLIS - Ninth-seeded Michigan State women's basketball used a balanced scoring attack to top No. 8-seeded Northwestern, 68-52, Thursday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. MSU will take on top-seeded Maryland on Friday.

The Spartans improve to 20-10 overall this season, while Northwestern now stands 16-14.With the win, MSU now holds an even 23-23 record in the B1G Tournament.

For the 11th time this season, the Spartans were led in scoring by redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley, who scored 14 points to go along with a team-leading seven rebounds. Colley was one of four Spartans to reach double figures. MSU is now 8-2 when four players score in double figures. Senior center Jenna Allen and freshman guard Nia Clouden both scored 11 points, with junior guard Taryn McCutcheon adding 10 points.

Northwestern was led by 15 points off the bench by Abbie Wolf with Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah added 11.

Both teams were fast out of the gates, as MSU started the game 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first five minutes. The Spartans shot 50.0 percent in the first quarter, including 4-for-7 from the 3-point line. MSU used an impressive four-point play by McCutcheon who drew a foul on a 3-pointer to take a 17-12  lead with 3:15 left in the quarter. McCutcheon led MSU with seven first-quarter points. After the first 10 minutes, MSU led Northwestern 24-19.

In the second quarter, both offenses remained hot. Despite MSU leading for all of the quarter, NU still shot 42.9 percent in the quarter. The 39 points in the first half were the most scored by the Spartans since they had 42 points against Michigan on Feb. 24. Despite the solid offense, Michigan State did not take a bigger lead than nine points in the half.

Michigan State started the second half cold missing its first three shots, as Northwestern closed the gap to 39-38 with 6:58 left in the quarter. Nothwestern took the lead 40-39 with a layup by Kunaiyi-Akpanah with 6:00 left on the clock. The Wildcats scored the first eight points of the third quarter, before Colley a trey put the Spartans back on top. MSU scored on three-straight possessions to take a 51-44 lead. The Spartans took their first double-digit lead of the game with a brilliant drive from Clouden that put MSU up 55-44, ending the quarter on a 16-4 run.

The Spartans closed out the game with a solid fourth quarter, getting quality minutes from the bench. MSU's bench scored 20 points led by nine from sophomore forward Sidney Cooks. Michigan State maintained its double-digit lead for all of the final period.

The Spartans take on top-seeded Maryland on Friday, March 8 at 12 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Michigan State will be facing Maryland for the fourth time in the last five B1G Tournaments.

Post-Game Notes vs. Northwestern Big Ten Tournament
• After Northwestern closed the gap to 47-44 late in the third quarter, the Spartans scored 16 unanswered points to put the game out of reach, never allowing the Wildcats to get closer than 15 afterwards.

• With the win, the Spartans have now won at least 20 games in 10 of head coach Suzy Merchant's 12 seasons.

• Four Spartans scored in double figures, led by Shay Colley with 14 points in her eighth straight double-digit scoring performance.

Nia Clouden scored 11 points for her fifth-straight game in double figures.

Jenna Allen had 11 points for her 18th double figure scoring game this year, second only to Colley with 19 such performances.

• The Spartans scored 12 fast break points and gave up none to the Wildcats.

• The Spartans outscored the Wildcats in second chance points, 14-4.

• McCutcheon made her 30th start of the season and 95th of her career ... Allen also notched her 30th start of the season and 58th of her career ... Colley started for the 22nd time this season and made the 44th start of her career ... Clouden posted her 30th start of the season ... Gaines made her 21st start of the season and 49th of her career.

• Allen, McCutcheon and Clouden have started all 30 games this season and are joined by junior forward Victoria Gaines in playing all 30 games.

• With double-figures scoring efforts from Jenna Allen (18), Shay Colley (12), Mardrekia Cook (11), and Nia Clouden(11), the Spartans are now 7-2 on the season when four players reach double digits. Michigan State last had four players score 10 or more points on February 3 in a 74-66 victory over Purdue which featured 20 point outbursts by Sidney Cooks and Colley.