No. 20 Rutgers Stops No. 17 Michigan State

Kara Fisher
Suzy Merchant (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Suzy Merchant (PHOTO: MSU SID)

Piscataway, N.J - In a battle of ranked teams, the No. 17 Michigan State women's basketball team was stopped on the road by first-place and No. 20 Rutgers 76-62 at the RAC Sunday afternoon.

With the loss, Michigan State falls to 13-5 this season and 3-4 in the very competitive Big Ten conference. Rutgers remains atop the Big Ten, standing 15-3 overall and 7-0 in Big Ten action. The road continues to be a tough play for the Spartans in B1G play, falling to 0-4 away from the Breslin Center.

The Spartans were led by 15 points from junior guard Taryn McCutcheon and sophomore forward Sidney Cooks. McCutcheon also added a team-high four assists and three steals. Cooks tied a season-high with nine rebounds. Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colleywas also in double figures for MSU with 13 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists.

The Scarlet Knights were led by a pair of great performances from Stasha Carey and Arella Guirantes. Carey scored a career-high 30 points, while Guirantes added 19 off the bench.

Michigan State scored the first five points of the game, leading to an early Rutgers timeout. After the Scarlet Knights timeout, Rutgers scored the next five to tie the score. The team exchanged baskets for the remainder of the first period. The Scarlet Knights opened up their biggest lead of the quarter 21-14 after an 8-0 run to end the quarter.

In the second quarter, the Rutgers pesky defense continued to cause the Spartans problems. The Scarlet Knights opened up their first double-digit lead after a Guirantes bucket with 1:38 remaining in the half, as RU went up 31-20. The MSU offense went cold in the second quarter, going 4:08 without a field goal, as Michigan State shot only 20 percent from the field in the second period (3-for-15). At the half, Colley led the Spartans with six points, while Carey and Guirantes both had 11 points for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights were solid in the paint, scoring 20 of their 33 points inside.

Rutgers dominated Michigan State in the third quarter, 24-15. The Scarlet Knights ended the period, making four of their last five baskets.

The Spartans came out hot in the fourth, starting the quarter with an 8-2 run. MSU got the Rutgers lead down to 10 on two separate occasions before Carey took over and scored seven-straight points for RU. Eventually, a 6-0 run by Rutgers put the game out of reach for MSU as RU took a 72-55 lead with under two left in the game. The Spartans out-scored the Scarlet Knights 23-19 in the final 10 minutes but could not close the deficit.

Michigan State returns home to take on Illinois on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on BTN Plus.

Post-Game Notes vs. Rutgers
• Sunday's MSU starting lineup of Shay Colley, Taryn McCutcheon, Victoria Gaines, Nia Clouden and Jenna Allen was the 11th time Michigan State has used that lineup. MSU is 7-4 with that starting five.

• The stingy Scarlet Knight defense held senior center Jenna Allen, the Spartans' leading scorer, to a season-low five points. She had scored in double figures four-straight games. Overall, Allen has score in double figures 14 times this season. Michigan State is 2-2 when she does not reach double figures.

• Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks was one rebound shy of her first double-double of the season. She was tied for the team lead with 15 points and led the team with nine rebounds. She also had nine rebounds in a win against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 20.

• The Spartans are now 4-2 this season against ranked teams. MSU has home wins against No. 9 Oregon (Dec. 9), No. 16 Iowa (Dec. 30), No. 18 Minnesota (Jan. 9) and No. 9 Maryland (Jan. 17). Michigan State has a neutral site loss to No. 13 NC State (Nov. 22) and a road loss to Rutgers (Jan. 20).
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