EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State women’s basketball team used a strong second half to pull away from Minnesota 66-51 to win its Big Ten opener tonight at Breslin Center. The Spartans improve to 13-1 overall, while the Golden Gophers fall to 11-4.
Bench production was key for Michigan State, as Jasmine Hines, Kiana Johnson and Akyah Taylor combined for 35 points and 14 rebounds. Johnson led the way with 17 points, adding four assists (no turnovers) and three steals. Hines was 7-for-11 from the field for 15 points. Klarissa Bell added 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds, while Jasmine Thomas posted seven points, eight rebounds, a game-high five assists and two steals.
Michigan State trailed by as much as six in the first half, but closed the half on a 7-2 run to go into halftime tied at 20. The Spartans posted the first five points of the second half and would eventually go up eight (38-30) with 12:35 left. The Golden Gophers scored the next nine points to retake the lead at 39-38 with 9:26 to go. However, MSU quickly responded with a 10-2 run of their own to go back ahead and would not look back. The Spartans would go on to score 46 second half points, shooting 57.1% from the field.
Minnesota entered the game first in the Big Ten in scoring with 74.8 points per game, including 85.8 points over its last four games. The Spartan defense held them to 33.3% from the field, including a 3-for-11 (27.3%) effort from behind the arc. MSU was +12 (45-33) on the glass, even though the Golden Gophers entered the game with a +4.9 margin.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday, hosting No. 9 Penn State at 2:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.