No. 23/24 MSU Women Return to the Road to Face OSU Monday

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 23/24 Michigan State hits the road to take on Ohio State on Monday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network with Vera Jones and Lisa Byington on the call. Michigan State snapped a two-game losing streak with a win against Minnesota on Jan. 9 and stands 12-3 this season and 2-2 in league play. Ohio State is 5-8 this season and 1-3 in the Big Ten.

• The win over No. 18 Minnesota on Jan. 9 was Michigan State’s third home win over a ranked team, joining No. 3 Oregon (88-82 on Dec. 9) and No. 16 Iowa (84-70 on Dec. 30), marking the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Spartans have defeated three ranked teams at the Breslin Center. In 2013-14, MSU beat No. 23 Dayton, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 19 Purdue.

• The Spartans are now 9-0 this season at home this season and have a 12-game home winning streak dating back to last year.

• Michigan State is third in the nation and second in the Big Ten in assists per game, averaging 21.3 apg. The Spartans are also seventh in the nation and first in the B1G in 3-point field goal percentage (.401).

• Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks netted a career-high 21 points against Minnesota, for her first career 20-point outing of her career. It was her second-straight game in double-digits as part of her seventh double-figure scoring outing of the season and 23rd of her career.

The Buckeyes are 5-8 overall and 1-3 in B1G play coming off a 55-50 upset victory in knocking off B1G leaders and No. 25 Indiana on Thursday night in Columbus. OSU took its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter after an 8-0 run and forced eight Indiana turnovers in the final quarter to secure the win. The victory over the Hoosiers snapped the Buckeyes’ five-game losing skid.

OSU is 14th in the B1G in scoring offense (58.9 ppg) and ninth in scoring defense (64.8 ppg), to rank 14th in scoring margin (-5.8). The Buckeyes are 14th in field goal percentage (.379), 13th in both 3-point field goal percentage (.289) and free throw percentage (.641). Defensively, Ohio State is ninth in both field goal percentage defense (.393) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.315), as well as ninth in blocked shots (4.5 bpg) and steals (7.2 spg). Additionally, the Buckeyes are 13th in rebounding margin (+0.7) and 14th in turnover margin (-1.8).

Ohio State is led by freshman forward Dorka Juhasz at 11.8 ppg, ranking 23rd in the Big Ten. Juhasz also tops OSU and ranks seventh in the B1G in rebounding with 8.5 rpg. Senior guard Carmen Grande is tied for fifth in the league in steals (1.7 spg) and tied for sixth in the conference in assists (4.5 apg), along with ninth in minutes played (33.0 mpg).

OSU head coach Kevin McGuff is in his sixth season leading the Buckeyes, logging a 128-59 record at OSU, as part of his 383-158 overall coaching record in his 17th season as a head coach.

Ohio State leads the overall series with Michigan State, 54-28. Last season, the Buckeyes stopped the Spartans 78-62 in Columbus in their only meeting. MSU was led by 16 points and five rebounds from Jenna Allen, while Sidney Cooks added 14. Despite Ohio State leading the overall series, MSU has won three of the last four meetings, including an epic 107-105 triple overtime win in East Lansing in 2016.

A fourth-quarter surge by No. 12 Ohio State pushed the Buckeyes passed the Michigan State women’s basketball team, 78-62, on Jan. 27, 2018 at OSU’s Value Center Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Junior center Jenna Allen led the Spartans in scoring with 16 points and added five rebounds. Freshman forward Sidney Cooks recorded 14 points and six boards. MSU welcomed back sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, who missed one game due to injury, and senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert, who missed five games due to injury. McCutcheon added nine points and six assists.
Ohio State was led by 23 points from All-American Kelsey Mitchell, including eight in the fourth quarter to spark the Buckeyes’ late surge to pull away, and became the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer, while Linnae Harper added 22, with 10 in the fourth quarter.

Michigan State fell to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in league contests, having lost three straight, including the last two to Top 20 ranked teams. Ohio State ends a three-game losing streak, improving to 16-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten action.

Junior guard Taryn McCutcheon has played in two games against the Buckeyes in her career. Last season, she scored nine points with six assists. In the two games, she has averaged 8.0 points and 6.5 assists per game. Senior center Jenna Allen has averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in five meetings. Last season, she led the Spartans with 16 points in the loss.

Wednesday’s win over No. 18 Minnesota was Michigan State’s third home win over a ranked team, joining No. 3 Oregon (88-82 on Dec. 9) and No. 16 Iowa (84-70 on Dec. 30), marking the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Spartans have defeated three ranked teams at the Breslin Center. In 2013-14, MSU beat No. 23 Dayton, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 19 Purdue.

Overall, it was the second-straight season and fourth in last six seasons that the Spartans have defeated three or more ranked teams in the same season. Last year, MSU beat No. 22 South Florida (neutral), No. 11 Maryland (away) and No. 21 Michigan (home). In 2015-16, the Spartans topped No. 16 Northwestern (home), No. 5 Ohio State (home) and No. 9 Ohio State (neutral).

Against Minnesota, the Spartans dished out a season-high tying 28 assists, matching 28 helpers from Florida Atlantic (Dec. 20). Michigan State is now 8-0 this season when posting 21 or more assists and the Spartans are 12-0 when logging more helpers than the opponent. In MSU’s losses to NC State, Northwestern and Indiana, the Spartans averaged only 12.7 assists per game, including a season-low 10 against Indiana.

In 15 games this season, the Spartans have had a player score at least 20 points six times. Senior center Jenna Allen has scored at least 20 points four times with a season-high 27 points against Oregon on Dec. 9. Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley has scored at least 20-points, including scoring 28 points against Northwestern on Jan. 3, which was the most by a Spartan this season. Freshman guard Nia Clouden is the final MSU player to reach the 20-point mark with 27 against Iowa on Dec. 30.

Senior center Jenna Allen’s double-digit scoring outing against Minnesota on Jan. 9 was also her second in a row and fourth in last five games as part of 12th of the season and 38th of her career. She also had a team-leading seven rebounds, marking the eighth game this season that she has topped or shared the team rebounding lead and MSU is now 8-0 when she does so. Allen also shared the team lead with six assists, which tied a career-high but new career-high in a home game, as she matched the six helpers from game at Hartford (Dec. 16).

She has four 20+ point outings this season and five in her career. Against both Oregon and FAU, Allen tied a career-high with three 3-pointers, matching three triples from at Notre Dame (12/16/17), which was also when her career-high of 28 points came.

Freshman guard Nia Clouden is among the freshmen leaders in several Big Ten categories. She is third in the Big Ten in scoring among freshmen with 12.5 ppg behind Maryland’s Taylor Mikesell and Wisconsin’s Imani Lewis. Among freshman, she is first in the league in assists with 4.5 apg. She is also first among B1G rookies in steals, averaging 1.6 steals per game.

The Spartans continue to hold several top spots in the Big Ten rankings this week. MSU is still first in scoring offense, averaging 82.5 ppg, while Iowa is second with 80.5ppg. The Spartans also lead the B1G in both 3-point field goal percentage (.401) and 3-pointers made per game (7.7). MSU also tops the league in turnover margin (+4.6), while ranking second in assists per game (21.3), scoring margin (+16.8), field goal percentage (.479) and assist/turnover ratio (1.5). MSU is also third in steals per game (9.3).

In B1G only action, Michigan State tops the conference in field goal percentage (.459), as well as second in scoring offense (74.0), 3-point percentage defense (.283), assists per game (18.5) and assist/turnover ratio (1.5) along with tied for second in blocks per game (5.3). Additionally, MSU is fourth in scoring margin (+5.0) and turnover margin (+1.8).

Michigan State has had success when it spreads the ball around this season. The Spartans are 8-0 when they have 21 or more assists in a game. Michigan State is also 12-0 when recording more assists than its opponents. Seven different players have led the team in assists this season, topped by junior guard Taryn McCutcheon, who has led MSU five times.

The Spartans stand No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll. This is the fifth-straight game that Michigan State has been ranked.

With three assists against Minnesota on Jan. 9, junior guard Taryn McCutcheon remains alone in fifth in career helpers with 420 in just three seasons. She passed Tamika Matlock (1995-97) who had 403. McCutcheon is just 23 assists away from tying Deb Traxinger (1978-82) with 443 helpers. She is one of just seven Spartans to reach the 400-assist mark.

She is currently third in the Big Ten and 43rd in the NCAA with 5.2 assists per game.

Michigan State is 24-13 in home Big Ten openers in 37 years in the league. Last season, the Spartans fell to Rutgers on Dec. 31, 61-58.

Overall, Michigan State is 19-18 all-time in Big Ten openers, having won six of its last eight ... Under Coach Merchant, the Spartans are 8-4 in Big Ten openers ... Last season, MSU earned a dominating 68-46 win over Indiana in Bloomington on Dec. 28, 2017.

This was the first time that Michigan State has started Big Ten play against Iowa since Jan. 6, 1984. In that match up the Spartans fell to the Hawkeyes, 70-62.

Michigan State’s 88-82 upset of No. 3 was MSU’s first upset win over an AP Poll top 5 team since a 107-105 3OT victory over No. 5 Ohio State on Feb. 27, 2016. It was the Spartans’ biggest upset win since a 68-64 upset of No. 3 Tennessee on April 3, 2005 in the NCAA Tournament. It was the highest regular-season win since a 82-73 OT win over No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 2, 2004.

Michigan State is now 22-15 at home vs. ranked teams under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are 3-1 against ranked opponents this season after a 78-74 loss to No. 13 N.C. State on Nov. 22 in Cancun, Mexico, a 84-70 win move Iowa on Dec. 30 and an 86-68 win over No. 18 Minnesota on Jan. 9.

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 185 of their last 196 games (.944) when leading with five minutes left, including 135 of their last 148. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 220-17 (.928) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 12-1 with the only loss coming against Indiana on Jan. 6.

The Spartans improved to 180-97 (.650) all-time in the month of December. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 63-27 (.700) in the 12th month of the calendar year. The Spartans have won 35 of their last 49 games in December, including 6-0 this season.

Junior guard Taryn McCutcheon is currently 43rd in the nation and third in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 5.2 apg, along with 31st in the nation and third in the league in total assists (78). McCutcheon is also 51st in the country and third in the conference in 3-point percentage (.420). Senior center Jenna Allen is 32nd in the country and fifth in the league in field-goal percentage with a 56.4 percentage.

As a team, MSU is fourth in the NCAA and second in the B1G in assists per game, averaging 21.3. Baylor is first in the nation with 22.9 apg. Michigan State is also seventh in the nation and tops in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 40.1 percent behind the arc. The Spartans are also 12th in the country and first in the Big Ten in scoring offense, netting 82.5 points per game, as well as ranking 23rd in the league and second in the nation in scoring margin at +16.8. MSU is 12th in the country and second in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 47.9 percent from the field.

As of Friday, Jan. 11, the Big Ten ranked No. 4 in the NCAA RPI (Ratings Percentage Index). In addition, a total of 10 Big Ten schools are among the top 90 in the NCAA team RPI rankings, including four in the top 25 and six in the top 56. Iowa tops the league at No. 14, followed close behind by Indiana at No. 15, then No. 20 Rutgers and No. 25 Michigan State. Maryland follows at No. 29. Purdue jumped up to No. 56 from No. 75 in the highest jump in the top 60 teams after upsetting 17th-ranked Iowa on Thursday night. Michigan is next at No. 73, Minnesota at No. 75, Northwestern at No. 85 and Penn State at No. 86.

Five Big Ten schools are ranked or receiving votes in the current Associated Press or USA Today/WBCA polls (as of Monday, Jan. 7), including four in the Top 25, led by No. 9 (AP)/No. 9 (USA Today) Maryland. Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State and Indiana round out the five B1G Top 25 teams, with the Hawkeyes at No. 17/17, Golden Gophers at No. 18/20, the Spartans at No. 23/24 and the Hoosiers at No. 25/RV. Rutgers is also receiving votes in both polls this week, while Michigan is receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll, with 12 Big Ten schools having been ranked or receiving votes in one or both polls for at least one week this season.

Michigan State head women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant has been named the recipient of the 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award, as announced by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. Merchant was presented her award at a luncheon at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on Dec. 6. The ATHENA Award honors individuals who strive towards the highest levels of professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, have devoted time and energy to their community, and who pave paths for other women to follow.

Michigan State’s Jenna Allen and Nia Clouden both captured Big Ten honors on Dec. 31 as announced by the league office. Allen earned Big Ten Player of the Week accolades, while Clouden garnered the Freshman of the Week honor. Clouden was also named USBWA National Freshman of the Week.

This is Allen’s second Player of the Week award this season and second of her career. Clouden captured her first Freshman of the Week honor and became the first Spartan to earn the award since Victoria Gaines on Jan. 2, 2017. This is the first time since the Freshman of the Week award began during the 2009-10 season that MSU has received both honors in the same week. The Spartans are also the first team to sweep the awards this year.

Allen, a native of Bedford, Indiana, scored 20 points, going 9-for-14 from the field on Sunday in the then-No. 21/22 Spartans’ victory against No. 16/16 Iowa in both schools’ Big Ten opener. She also added career-high 17 rebounds in the win.

Clouden, who hails from Owings Mills, Maryland, has been stellar all season for the Spartans. Against Iowa, she set a new career high with 27 points in 39 minutes in the victory against No. 16/16 Iowa. She shot 10-of-19 (.526) from the field and 6-of-9 (.667) from the free throw line to seal the win.

Michigan State senior center Jenna Allen added to her honors after being named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the Week on Dec. 10. She also garnered ESPNW and Big Ten Player of the week accolades. Allen averaged 21.5 points on 17-of-24 shooting (.708 percent), including a 5-of-8 performance (.625 percent) from beyond the arc over two games last week. In an upset over No. 3-ranked Oregon on Dec. 9, Allen scored a season-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field in a career-high 37 minutes played. The Bedford, Indiana native was 3-of-4 from distance including a triple with 35 seconds left in regulation that all but sealed the game for the Spartans.

Michigan State was one of the six Big Ten teams to earn a victory in the 12th annual ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge, as the ACC won the Challenge, 8-6. MSU was joined in the win column by Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue and Minnesota. The Spartans’ 25-point margin of victory (91-66) was not only the largest margin of victory, but also the highest B1G score. Overall, it was the third-largest margin of victory in the challenge, behind Notre Dame’s 34-point margin in 105-71 win over Iowa and 29-point margin in Florida State’s 87-58 win over Penn State. MSU’s 91 points was the second-highest scored in the Challenge behind Notre Dame’s 105 points.

The four points allowed in the first quarter against Virginia was the fewest this season. The fewest points MSU has allowed in a first quarter ever was two against Davidson on Nov. 11, 2016. Michigan State also held Kennesaw State to only six points in the second quarter on Nov. 23. That tied the least amount of points allowed by MSU in the second quarter. MSU also gave up only six points against Indiana on Dec. 28, 2017.

All-time, the Spartans are now 32-15 in season openers, but 24-2 when the opener is in East Lansing. Coach Merchant is 9-3 in season openers at MSU, and has won 15 of her last 18, including her time at Eastern Michigan. This is the fifth time in the past seven years Michigan State has opened with wins in five of its first six games.

In Coach Merchant’s first 12 seasons, the Spartans are 77-32 (70.6%) following a loss.

In head coach Suzy Merchant’s tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. Overall, MSU has scored at least 70 points in 13 of 15 games this season. MSU has won 131 of its last 145 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 148-21 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 12-1 when scoring at least 70 with a loss to No. 13 NC State on Nov. 22.

Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley spent time overseas this summer playing for the Canadian National Team. Playing in Europe, Colley helped guide Canada to the quarterfinals of the FIBA Women’s World Cup.

Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2017-18 season 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 5,689 fans in 16 home games last season. MSU had a total of 91,026 fans pass through the gates. This is the 14th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.

This season, the Spartans are third in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation in attendance, averaging 5,330 fans per game. Michigan State packed 9,520 fans into the Breslin Center as MSU stopped Iowa on Dec. 30. Purdue leads the league in attendance, averaging 6,492 fans per game, while South Carolina is first in the nation with 11,001 per game.

To kickoff the beginning of Big Ten Women’s Basketball Media Week, the conference released the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls, in addition to the preseason All-Big Ten teams. Michigan State redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley was earned Preseason All-Big Ten honors by the coaches.

Maryland was voted to finish first in both the coaches and the media polls, while Iowa was picked second in both. In the coaches poll, Michigan was voted third, while Minnesota earned the third spot in the media poll. Reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson of Iowa was voted Preseason Player of the Year by both the coaches and the media.

Last season, Colley led the Spartans in scoring and was 23rd in the Big Ten, averaging 12.4 points per game. Colley was also tied for eighth in assists with 4.3 apg. In her first season with the Spartans, the guard also ended the season tied for fifth in steals with 1.9 spg.

The Spartans host Maryland on Thursday, Jan. 17. Michigan State will then travel to first-place Rutgers on Sunday, Jan. 20.

Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks scored a career-high 21 points as the No. 23 Michigan State women’s basketball team stopped No. 18 Minnesota, 86-68 at the Breslin Center on Wednesday night. The win was the Spartans’ third win over a ranked team this season.

Michigan State used a combination of tying a season-high 28 assists and a season-low eight turnovers in the win. The Spartans improve to 12-3 this season and snapped a two-game losing streak. MSU is now also 2-2 in league play. Minnesota falls to 12-3 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten.

The Spartans had four in double figures for the second-straight game led by Cooks career high. She also added three blocks and three rebounds. Freshman guard Nia Clouden scored 15 points to go along with a season-tying six rebounds and five assists. Senior center Jenna Allen added 13 points and tied her career high with six assists, while redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley contributed 12 points and six assists.

Minnesota was led by 20 points from Kenisha Bell, while Destiny Pitts added 15 points.

• The Spartans are now 3-1 this season against ranked opponents, improving to 22-15 overall at home vs. ranked foes under head coach Suzy Merchant.

• The Spartans are now 9-0 this season at home this season and have a 12-game home winning streak dating back to last year.

• Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks netted a career-high 21 points, for her first career 20-point outing of her career . . . it was her second-straight game in double-digits as part of her seventh double-figure scoring outing of the season and 23rd of her career.

Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of five National Letters of Intent, including Julia Ayrault (Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan/Grosse Pointe North), Cydni Dodd (Indianapolis, Indiana/Warren Central), Moira Joiner (Saginaw, Michigan/Heritage), Taiyier Parks (Cleveland, Ohio/North Royalton) and Alyza Winston (Muskegon, Michigan/ Muskegon). The class was ranked No. 6 by ESPNW Hoop Gurlz as of Nov. 15.

Ayrault is a 6-2 guard who plays for head coach Gary Bennett at Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan and played AAU basketball for Rob Ruhstorfer and the Michigan Mystics. Ayrault is currently ranked No. 14 in her position and No. 75 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, she averaged 19.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game and led Grosse Pointe North to the Class A Final Four. Ayrault set program records of scoring 497 points scored in a season.

Dodd is a 6-5 center who plays for head coach Stacy Mitchell at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana and AAU basketball for Danny Riego and the Indiana Gym Rats EYBL. She is currently ranked No. 14 in her position and No. 84 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, Dodd averaged 11.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game on 70 percent shooting from the field. Dodd was named to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Underclass Large School All-State team. Joiner is a 5-10 guard who plays for head coach Vonnie Delong at Heritage High School in Saginaw, Michigan and played AAU basketball for Jeff Taylor and the Michigan Storm. She is ranked No. 13 in her position and No. 57 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz. Joiner is a three-time Associated Press All-State honoree. In 2018, she led Heritage to the Class A state championship, averaging 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals. Joiner was also named the Associated Press Class A Player of the Year. The three-time captain earned the Army National Guard Team award last season.
Parks is a 6-2 forward who plays for head coach Matt Stricker at North Royalton High School in North Royalton, Ohio and played AAU basketball for Andre Gault and the SMAC. She is ranked No. 11 in her position and No. 93 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, she averaged 19.0 points to go along with 16.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 3.0 blocks per game. She earned first-team All-Conference honors as both a freshman and a junior.

Winston is a 5-7 guard who plays for head coach Rodney Walker at Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan, which is the same high school that produced current Spartan Mardrekia Cook. Winston also played AAU basketball for Monique Brown and Michigan Crossover EYBL. Winston is ranked No. 18 in her position and No. 70 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, she led the Big Reds to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. As a junior, she averaged 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists per game.