EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ No. 21 Michigan State womenâ€™s basketball jumped out early and never looked back, cruising to a 75-61 victory over Minnesota on Monday night at the Breslin Center. Freshman Tori Jankoska led the Spartans (19-8, 11-3) with 21 points, while senior Klarissa Bell dished out a career-high 10 assists and junior Becca Mills had a double-double.
With the win and Nebraskaâ€™s victory over Penn State, there is now a three-way tie in the loss column atop the Big Ten. PSU (12-3) has one game remaining, while MSU (11-3) and Nebraska (11-3) end with two more games this week.
With the Golden Gophers (17-11, 6-8) leading 7-6 in the early minutes, Michigan State (19-8) went on a 19-4 run over an eight-minute stretch to jump ahead 25-11. The Spartans maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the half, going into the break up 44-33. MSU shot 58.1% in the opening half, including 7-for-11 (63.6%) from 3-point.
The Spartan lead grew to as many as 18 (62-44) midway through the half, before Minnesota went on an 11-2 run to get back within single-digits at 64-55 with 3:54 to go. MSU scored seven of the next 10 points to gain back control of the game and go home with the victory.
Jankoska scored 16 of her 21 points in the first half, having shot 7-for-14 from the field and 4-for-8 from 3-point on the night. She also added five assists, while playing all 40 minutes. Bell had a solid night with nine points, three blocks and two steals to go along with her career-high 10 assists.
Mills had 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for her second career double-double, while also added a career-high three steals in only 28 minutes. Junior Jasmine Hines was also crucial off the bench with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
The Spartans had a season-high 23 assists on 30 made field goals, while shooting 49.2% from the field.
Michigan State hits the road on Thursday for its final road game of the regular season, visiting Northwestern for a 9 p.m. ET tip on Big Ten Network.
- Michigan State has won 20 of its last 21 February games in the Breslin Center, including nine in a row.
- The Spartans 23 assists were a season high, and the most in a game since dishing out 24 vs. Milwaukee on Dec. 1, 2012. It was also the most in a Big Ten game since also having 23 vs. Michigan on Dec. 31, 2009.
- MSU improved to 73-5 under Coach Merchant when scoring at least 70 points.
- Tonight was Jankoskaâ€™s fifth 20-point game this season, tying her for the most-ever by a Spartan freshman.
- The Spartans are 7-0 this season when Jankoska leads them in scoring.
- Jankoska played all 40 minutes for the first time in her career.
- Klarissa Bell had a career-high 10 assists, while also tying her career high with three blocks.
- Becca Mills had her second career double-double, both this season.
- Millsâ€™ 11 rebounds tied her career high, while her three steals were also a career-best.
- With her block, Mills moved into a tie for ninth place on the MSU career blocks list with 65.
- Jasmine Hines scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 6-13, 2013.
- Hines had her first block of the season and tied her season high with 23 minutes played.
- MSU is now 14-1 when Hines scores in double figures in her career.
- Annalise Pickrel tied her season high with three steals.
- Bell and Pickrel each played their 120th career game, tying them for 17th on the Spartan all-time list.
- The Spartans have won 99 of their last 100 games when leading with five minutes left, including winning 50 in a row.
- The Spartans have won seven of their last eight games against Minnesota and are 39-20 all-time. MSU has won four-straight at Breslin Center over the Golden Gophers.