MSU

Suzy Merchant & the Michigan State Spartans upset the #3 Michigan Wolverines to advance to Big Ten Tournament Semifinals!

Suzy Merchant & the Michigan State Spartans upset the #3 Michigan Wolverines to advance to Big Ten Tournament Semifinals!

Big props to Suzy Merchant and the Spartans!  Suzy will be our guest on Spartan Nation TV on Monday and with her back from a lengthy absence with her health, the Spartans upset Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament.  Here is the entire story from our buddy Kara Fisher!

Gaines Fuels Upset of Michigan in Big Ten Tournament, 74-64

Michigan State met up with No. 3 seed Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday night in Indianapolis, and came away with a 74-64 victory over the Wolverines. The victory was the second for MSU over UM this season, and puts the Spartans in the semifinals against No. 2 seed Maryland on Saturday at approx.. 6:15 pm in the second semifinal of the day at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

The Spartans, the No. 6 seed in the tournament, improve to 21-10 on the season; No. 3 seed Michigan falls to 22-9.

MSU held a six-point lead at halftime, and pushed its lead to as many as 17 in the second half. Freshman Victoria Gaines led all Spartans with 18 points, going 6-of-9 from the floor with four rebounds. She led MSU’s four scorers in double figures: Tori Jankoska finished with 14 points, five assists and five boards, while both Branndais Agee and Jenna Allen had 12. Taya Reimer led the Spartans with nine rebounds, and added four points. Kysre Gondrezick led the Wolverines with 23 points on the night.

Michigan State took advantage of early fouls on the Wolverines, and converted four free throw attempts before the game was two minutes old to build a four-point lead, (6-2). The Wolverines came back to tie it at 9-9 on a three-pointer by Gondrezick midway through the frame. The teams battled bucket-for-bucket, and a layup by Gondrezick with 13 seconds remaining looked like it would give the Wolverines the advantage at the quarter break. However, Jankoska refused to waste a possession, drove to the basket with the seconds ticking away, and beat the buzzer with a layup to tie the game at 19-19. 

The second quarter started slowly for both teams, as neither team could score over the opening three minutes – a stretch that was broken up by a Mardrieka Cook layup with 3:01 expired in the quarter. That bucket started an 11-3 run for the Spartans that allowed them to open up their largest lead of the first half, 32-22. Consecutive threes from the Wolverines quickly trimmed that lead to just four points, but a Jenna Allen basket on the next MSU possession stopped the UM run before it started. Allen’s basket at 1:46 remaining was the final one for either team in the second, as UM missed three shots and had one deflected away by Taya Reimer. In all, MSU got 14 points from its bench in the opening half, and had 14 points off nine Wolverine turnovers.

MSU came out with hot shooting in the third, sinking five of their first six shots – including consecutive buckets from Branndais Agee – to push its lead to 13. MSU’s advantage on the scoreboard never fell below double-digits in that third quarter until a Hallie Thome jumper from the paint in the final seconds of the quarter made it a nine-point game headed into the final 10 minutes of play.

In the fourth, MSU used a 7-0 run over 62 seconds to make a nine-point game once again a double-digit margin, as the Spartans used a three from McCutcheon and a jumper by Jankoska to open their largest lead, 63-47, with 7:08 to play, forcing the Wolverines into a time out. MSU was shooting better than 63% (12-19) over the first 13 minutes of the second half, and limited the Wolverines to just 8-of-26 shooting from the floor (30.8%) in that same stretch. Michigan used a 8-0 run over a two-minute span to bring the Spartan lead from 17 down to nine (68-59) with 1:16 to play. The Wolverines were forced to foul in the time remaining, and the Spartans made six of seven free throws over the balance of regulation to settle on the 10-point margin of victory.

The Spartans now turn their attention to Maryland, the consensus No. 4 team in the nation, for Saturday’s semifinal. The Terrapins defeated MSU 89-72 on Feb. 12 in the only meeting of the teams this season. This is also a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Tournament final, a game in which the Terps prevailed, 60-44.

Postgame Notes: Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals vs. Michigan

Michigan State is now 6-0 against the Wolverines all-time in the Big Ten Tournament.The last time the teams met was in 2015 when MSU defeated Michigan in the second round, 69-49. MSU and Michigan have played in the Big Tournament four of the last five seasons (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016).

The Spartans advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Overall, MSU is 3-9 in the semifinals.

Senior guard Tori Jankoska moved up to third on the all-time Michigan State scoring list with 14 points in the B1G Quarterfinal today. She passed MSU legend Scott Skiles who had 2,145 career points as a Spartan (1982-86). Jankoska now has 2,155 career points.

Jankoska has 689 points in her senior season – eight more will tie the school record of 697 set by Aerial Powers in 2015-16. Already this season, Jankoska set the school record for career points (2,155) and also established a new single-game scoring record with 42 points against Ohio State on Jan 10.

The Spartans have had six different starting lineups in the 31 games of regular-season. Senior Tori Jankoska, graduate student Taya Reimer along with freshman Taryn McCutcheon have started all 31 games so far this season. Redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee has started 26 games this season. Redshirt freshman Victoria Gaines has started 19 games, while junior Lexi Gussert has started three games. Sophomore Jenna Allen has started a trio of games this season. Sophomore Hana Vesela has started two games, while freshman Nia Hollie has started six contests. The Spartans have had the same starting lineup the last 17 games.

Sophomore forward Jenna Allen was a leader off the bench, scoring 12 points, just shy of her season high of 13. Allen’s career high was 14 at Nebraska on Feb. 14, 2016.

Redshirt freshman Victoria Gaines set a new career high with 18 points against Michigan.

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 20 times overall this season. MSU has won 106 of its last 115 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 123-16 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 17-3 when scoring at least 70 points with its only losses coming against Iowa in overtime on Feb. 9, against Maryland on Feb. 12 and Nebraska in overtime on Feb. 26.

The Spartans will take on Maryland for the third straight season in the Big Ten Tournament. In 2016, Maryland defeated MSU in the championship game, 60-44, and downed the Spartans in the quarterfinals in 2015 (70-60).

MSU improved to 13-1 this season when at least three players scored in double figures. Victoria Gaines (18), Tori Jankoska (14), Branndais Agee (12) and Jenna Allen (12) accomplished the feat on Friday vs. the Wolverines.


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