No. 19 MSU Edged in Defensive Battle with No. 22 WVU

No. 19 MSU Edged in Defensive Battle with No. 22 WVU
By  | 

WINTER PARK, Fla. -- Sophomore guard Nia Clouden scored in double figures for the ninth-straight game, but the No. 19 Michigan State women's basketball team was edged by No. 22 West Virginia, 63-57, at the Florida Sunshine Classic on Saturday. After averaging 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the two contests, she earned a spot on the Florida Sunshine Classic All-Tournament team.

MSU falls to 7-4 with the loss, losing two-straight for the first time this season. West Virginia improves to 8-1 with the win.

The Spartans were led once again by Clouden, who scored 16 points and topped her career-high with eight boards. She had seven rebounds against Syracuse on Dec. 20. Senior guard Shay Colley returned to the starting lineup after missing two games to score 11 points, three rebounds and two steals.

Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon, who was limited in minutes, scored five points. She is now six points away from becoming the 28th Spartan to score 1,000 points.

Colley scored six points in the first four minutes as the Spartans jumped out to an early 8-5 lead. The first quarter belonged to Colley and Clouden as the two combined for 13 of MSU's 15 points.

A Nia Hollie trey gave MSU its biggest lead of the game 28-21, leading to a WVU timeout with 3:41 remaining in the half. Both teams continued to struggle from the field in the period with the Spartans holding the slight advantage, 15-12. Playing back-to-back games, MSU was able to use its bench throughout the half getting eight points from the bench.

West Virginia scored the first seven points of the third quarter to re-take the lead, 34-30, before a Colley jumper stopped the run. On the strength of a 6-0 run and MSU re-took the lead 40-39 with 3:39 left in the period.

In the fourth quarter with Michigan State looking to break a scoring drought, Hollie hit a clutch jumper with the shot expiring to trim the deficit to 52-48 with under three minutes remaining. After a Madisen Smith 3-pointer gave the Mountaineers a six-point lead with 1:56 in the game, Hollie drained her second trey of the game to keep MSU in the game. Down the stretch, WVU went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe to seal the win.

The Spartans will take a quick break for the holidays before hitting the road once again. Michigan State opens Big Ten action at No.12 Indiana Saturday, Dec. 28 with a game that will be televised on the Big Ten Network. MSU will then end 2019 with its home B1G opener against Nebraska on Tuesday, Dec. 31 in another BTN contest.