EAST LANSING, Mich. - Behind five players in double figures, Michigan State women’s basketball captured its Big Ten home opener, 78-79, in overtime on New Year’s Eve at the Breslin Center. MSU trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but chipped away at the deficit.
With the win, the Spartans snapped a three-game losing streak and improve to 8-5 this season and 1-1 in league contests. Nebraska had its six-game winning streak halted and falls to 11-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. With Tuesday’s Big Ten home opener victory, Michigan State is now 25-13 in B1G home openers.
Sophomore guard Nia Clouden had a strong second half for MSU to lead the Spartans in scoring with 16 points, scoring 14 of her 16 in the second half. She also added seven assists and five rebounds. Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon added 15 points, including going 8-for-12 from the free throw line. Freshman guard Moira Joiner scored a career-high 13 points, while sophomores Kayla Belles and Tory Ozment both added 11.
Nebraska was led by a game-high 19 points from Sam Haiby, while Kate Cain had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Early on for MSU, the post players took advantage of their opportunities, scoring eight of MSU’s first 10 points, as the Spartans took an early 10-6 lead. The Huskers then used an 10-0 run to take a 16-10 lead with under three minutes left in the first quarter. A Mardrekia Cook lay up stopped the run, but the period ended with Nebraska on top 20-12.
The Spartans came out strong in the period, scoring six of the first eight points of the quarter. Michigan State was able to chip away at the Husker lead getting the deficit down to four points. Turnovers and early foul troubles plagued the Spartans, as both Taiyier Parks and Belles were called for their second fouls in the first half.
A Cook layup and a McCutcheon jumper made it a two-point game 39-37 with under three minutes left in the third quarter. McCutcheon then drained her first trey of the game to make it a one-point game with 94 seconds left in the period.
In the fourth quarter, a 7-0 run by the Spartans, highlighted by a trey from Ozment cut the Husker lead to 51-49 with 5:58 left. The run extended to 10-0 after a Belles old-fashioned three as MSU took its first lead since the first quarter. After the Huskers took a three-point lead, Clouden ended a four-minute Spartan field goal drought with a 3-pointer to tie the game. With 2.2 seconds remaining, Ozment drained a pair of free throws to send the MSU to its first overtime game of the season.
Overtime belonged to Michigan State, as the Spartans jumped out to a 66-60 lead after a steal and a McCutcheon layup with 3:04 left in extra time. Down the stretch, Michigan State went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe to secure the victory. McCutcheon scored seven of her 15 points in overtime.
Michigan State returns to the road but remains in the state, traveling to in-state rival Michigan on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 12 p.m. on ESPN2.