EAST LANSING, Mich. - Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon celebrated Senior Day by becoming the Michigan State women’s basketball all-time assist leader, as the Spartans closed out the regular season with a dominating 99-80 win over Penn State on Sunday at the Breslin Center.
McCutcheon broke Spartan great and current assistant coach Kristin Haynie’s career assist record with her seventh assist of the day with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. The bucket by Nia Hollie gave McCutcheon 575 assists, pushing her past Haynie who had 574 during her All-American career from 2001-05.
With the win, the Spartans end the regular season with a 16-13 overall record and an even 9-9 Big Ten mark. Penn State falls to 7-22 overall and 1-17 in league games.
Despite injuries, the Spartans were able to start all four seniors in McCutcheon, Victoria Gaines, Shay Colley and Hollie along with sophomore guard Nia Couden. Gaines and Colley, who were unable to play, kissed the Spartan before leaving the court.
Overall, Clouden led Michigan State with 20 points to go along with five assists and three rebounds. This was her seventh 20-point game of the season. To go along with a season-high nine assists, McCutcheon added 15 points. Sophomore forward Kayla Belles scored 16 points with eight rebounds, while freshman forward Taiyier Parks added 13 points and seven boards.
Penn State was led by 27 points from Kamaria McDaniel who is second in the league in scoring.
Michigan State scored the first 11 points of the game, helped by two fast 3-pointers from McCutcheon. After the Spartans jumped out to a 16-8 lead both teams hit a dry spells that lasted over three minutes. An old-fashioned 3-point play from freshman forward Parks gave MSU its first double-digit lead, 20-9 as the first period came to an end.
In the second quarter, the Spartans scored the first six points to open up a 26-9 lead. From that point, Penn State went on a 9-0 run to trim the advantage to 26-18. Michigan State responded nicely with a 9-0 run to open up at 57-42 lead. The run was highlighted by a pair of McCutcheon treys.
Penn State came out hot in the second half scoring 13 of the first 20 points of the third period. As the MSU offense began to heat up the attention turned to McCutcheon. She tied the record with a laser pass to a wide-open Julie Ayrault with 1:09 remaining in the quarter. With 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter, McCutcheon found fellow senior Hollie to pass Haynie and become the all-time assist leader.
Seven different Spartans scored in the fourth quarter, as MSU maintained its double-digit advantage. Belles led the way with six points in the final 10 minutes. Freshman center Cydni Dodd was a solid with four points and two rebounds in less than four minutes of action.
MSU has earned the No. 8 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, facing No. 9 Purdue on Thursday, March 5 at 12 p.m. The winner will take on top-seeded Maryland on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m.