Spartan Women Drop Big Ten Road Opener to Northwestern

Suzy Merchant (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Suzy Merchant (PHOTO: MSU SID)

EVANSTON, Ill. - Despite a season-high 28 points redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley, the No. 15/17 Michigan State women's basketball team dropped its Big Ten road opener to Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday.

With the loss the Spartans eight-game winning streak comes to an end, as MSU falls to 11-2 this season and 1-1 in Big Ten action. Northwestern is now 9-5 overall and 2-1 in league play. There were 15 lead changes in the tightly-contested battle.

Colley's 28 points were a season high and just three points shy from matching her career high. For the first time this season, only one Spartan reached double figures as senior center Jenna Allen was second in scoring with nine points. For only the third time this year, MSU was out-rebounded, 37-30. The Spartans were also plagued by tying a season-high with 19 turnovers.

Northwestern was led by 18 points from Lindsey Pulliam, while Pallas Kunaiyi- Alkpanah added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

In a fast-paced first quarter, MSU jumped out to a 10-6 lead after a Taryn McCutcheon trey. Pulliam scored six-straight for the Wildcats to cut the Spartan advantage to 12-10 midway through the quarter with Allen getting called for two quick fouls. With under a minute left in the quarter, Northwestern took the lead 18-17 after a Abbie Wolf layup. MSU was hampered by seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes.

In the second quarter, the Spartans quickly tied the game at 20-20 after a Nia Clouden free throw. With 4:21 left in the half, Colley beat the shot clock as MSU re-took the lead 28-26. Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks picked a key moment for her first basket of the game, a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Michigan State entered the locker room with a 38-34 lead due in part to 18 first-half points from Colley.

The Spartans had a 2:55 scoring drought in the third quarter stopped with a Colley free throw with three minutes left in the quarter to take a 47-46 lead. Allen came to life in the third period with six points. After a Pulliam layup, the Wildcats took a brief 50-49 lead before Colley's free throw tied the game. Once again, the Spartans beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter. Colley saved a broken play with 3-pointer to put MSU back on top 53-52.

Michigan State's scoring went cold in the final period, as Northwestern out-scored MSU 18-9. The Spartans went just over two minutes without a field goal before a Cooks layup with 5:36 left on the clock. Down 62-61 with under two left, the Spartans forced a turnover, but MSU was unable to capitalize and Northwestern converted a three-point play on the other end with a big play from Kunaiyi-Akpanah to take a two possession lead, 65-61. From that point, the Wildcats would not relinquish the lead.

Michigan State concludes its two-game road trip at Indiana on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m.

Post-Game Notes vs. Northwestern
• Thursday was the first time that Michigan State has not reached 70 points this season.

• With the starting lineup of Nia Clouden, Taryn McCutcheon, Shay Colley, Victoria Gaines and Jenna Allen, Michigan State has had three different starting lineups. McCutcheon, Clouden, Gaines and Allen are the four Spartans to have started all 13 games. MSU is 5-2 with this starting lineup.

• Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley scored a season-high 28 points in just her second game back after injury. Her previous high this season was 21 points against Wright State on Nov. 18. She was just three-points shy of matching her career high of 31 points last season in the WNIT against South Dakota on March 22.

• Senior center Jenna Allen recorded a season high three blocks, just one shy of her career-high four blocks against Detroit on Nov. 21, 2017. This was only the third time this season that Allen did not scored in double figures.

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