Balanced Effort Leads Suzy Merchant's Spartans Past Indiana, 72-42

Jim Donatelli

Bell paces MSU with 16 points as the Spartans won their seventh straight over IU.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State women’s basketball cruised to a 72-42 victory over Indiana tonight at Breslin Center. The Spartans, who improve to 19-5 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten, had 10 different scorers, led by 16 points from junior Klarissa Bell.

Sophomore Becca Mills (11 points) and junior Annalise Pickrel (10) added double-figure efforts off the bench. Bell and sophomore Kiana Johnson led the Spartans with five assists apiece, while Johnson also added a career-high five steals. Senior Jasmine Thomas was the top rebounder with seven.

Indiana scored first and held a 9-8 lead seven minutes into the game. However, a Courtney Schiffauer 3-pointer started a 9-0 Spartan run over the next five minutes, and MSU would later add another 9-0 spurt late in the half to go up 15 (29-14) with 1:46 remaining until halftime.

The Hoosiers hung around in the early minutes of the second half, but Michigan State began an extended 25-6 run with 14 minutes to go, with 11 unanswered points to put the game away. The Spartans were able to rest some key players and the bench some playing time for the first time in Big Ten play.

The Spartan defense forced 22 turnovers, while committing only seven themselves, leading to a 31-5 edge in points off turnovers. MSU held IU to 20.0% (3-for-15) from behind the arc and shot 47.4% (9-for-19) as a team from 3-point. The nine 3-pointers made were a season-high.

Michigan State returns to action on Saturday, traveling to Ann Arbor for a 12 p.m. tip against the Wolverines on Big Ten Network.


- Michigan State has won seven in a row over Indiana, and 17 of the last 20 meetings.

- The win was the Spartans’ largest margin of victory in a Big Ten regular-season game since beating Michigan 77-44 on Jan. 1, 2006.

- It was also the second largest victory by MSU in the series against IU, and the largest since a 72-38 win on Feb. 11, 1990.

- MSU improves to 22-4 in February over the last four seasons and is 31-9 in the month under Coach Merchant.

- In Coach Merchant’s six seasons, MSU is now 43-14 following a loss, including a 5-1 mark this season.

- In five career games against Indiana, Kiana Johnson now has 34 assists (6.8 per game) and just seven turnovers. It is a 4.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

- Michigan State won its 39th straight game when scoring at least 70 points. MSU is 57-4 under Coach Merchant when reaching that number.

- MSU has held 22 of its 24 opponents below its season average. IU entered the game averaging 55.3 points.

- The Spartans have held 23 of 24 leading scorers below their average. IU’s Aulani Sinclair was averaging 16.3 points, but was held to six points on 3-for-8 shooting.

- MSU held a 36-27 advantage in rebounds. The Spartans have outrebounded 20 of their 24 opponents this season.

- MSU’s seven turnovers were the second fewest this season. The Spartans committed six vs. Purdue on Jan. 27.

- Indiana is the 13th opponent this season to be held under 50 points. The total is the second most in program history, trailing only the 1973-74 team (14 times).

- Kiana Johnson tied her career-high with five steals. It tied for the most by a Spartan this season.

- With her two 3-pointers, Annalise Pickrel moved into 15th place on the MSU career 3-pointer list with 67.

- With her 121st game played, Jasmine Thomas moved into a tie for 14th all-time at Michigan State.

- Michigan State is 8-0 this season when Klarissa Bell leads in scoring.

- Today was Klarissa Bell’s 21st birthday.

- Mariah Harris scored a season-high five points, including her first career 3-pointer. It was her first game action since Dec. 16.

- Akyah Taylor had five points and four rebounds in eight minutes.