LANSING, Mich. — Despite three players reaching double figures, the No. 23/24 Michigan State women's basketball team was edged by Nebraska, 68-64, Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans were banged up and were not able to come back from trailing at half time by nine points. With the loss, Michigan State falls to 8-2 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. Nebraska improves to 6-4 this season and 4-3 in league action.
Despite scoring only three points in the first half, junior guard Nia Clouden led the Spartans in scoring with 14 points, netting 11 points in the second half, to go along with four assists in the game before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Junior guard Tory Ozment was also solid in the second half with nine points, totaling 11 in the game. Sophomore guard Alyza Winston was the third Spartan in double figures with 10 points and four assists, tying her career high.
Isabelle Bourne was the Cornhuskers leading scorer with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Early on the Huskers jumped out to a 17-11 lead due in part to four early Spartan turnovers. The 7-0 Nebraska run was halted by a Julia Ayrault layup with under three minutes left in the period. Nebraska was able to keep MSU's leading scorer Clouden off the scoreboard in the first quarter.
The Huskers scored the first five points of the second quarter to take a 25-16 lead. Nebraska jumped out to as big of a lead as 10 points in the period. Clouden got on the board late in the second stanza, scoring three-straight points. Nebraska remained hot, including a Ruby Porter 3-pointer late in the shot clock with 38 seconds remaining to give the Huskers the 39-30 lead at the break.
Michigan State forced two turnovers and scored the first six points of the third period to cut it to a 39-36 deficit at the 8:22 mark. The run increased to 8-0 as the lead was trimmed to 39-38, leading to a Nebraska timeout. After a pair of Ozment free throws, the Spartans took their first lead of the second half, 44-43, at the 5:28 mark.
In the final 10 minutes, the Spartans continued the momentum they started at the beginning of the second half, but the Huskers would not go away. Michigan State took as big a lead as five points with eight minutes remaining, but Nebraska re-took the lead with a Bourne layup and would not relinquish the lead. With five seconds remaining, Winston had a chance to tie the score but her 3-point attempt was blocked by Kate Cain.
Michigan State now hits the road for a pair of games, traveling to Illinois on Thursday, Jan.14 at 7 p.m. ET. The Spartans will then take on No. 15/14 Michigan in Ann Arbor on Monday, Jan. 18 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Post-Game Notes vs. Nebraska
• After leading at halftime in the first eight games of the season, Michigan State has trailed at intermission in the last two contests ... MSU is now 8-0 when leading at the break and 0-2 when trailing at half.
• The Spartans' starting five on Sunday was the fifth-straight game with the starting five of junior guard Nia Clouden, junior guard Tory Ozment, sophomore forward Julia Ayrault, sophomore forward Taiyier Parks and sophomore guard Alyza Winston ... it was also the fifth game this season with that Spartan starting five.
• Only two Spartans, Ozment and Clouden, have started all 10 games this season ... Ayrault and Winston made their seventh starts of their careers, all in the last seven games this season ... meanwhile, Clouden made her 73rd career start in playing in her 73rd career game ... Ozment started for the 22nd time of her career in playing her 58th game ... Parks started for the eighth time this season in the 10 games as part of her 11th career start, while playing in her 40th career game.
• Ozment logged double-digits for the first time in last four outings with 11 points Sunday ... it was her fifth double-figure scoring contest of the season and 12th of her career ... Ozment also tied her career-high with three steals, tying it for the third time this season and sixth in her career, last doing so last week at Purdue (1/3/21).
• Winston posted double-digits for the second-straight game and seventh time this season with 10 points Sunday ... it was also Winston's eighth career double-figure scoring game ... the sophomore guard also netted two 3-pointers Sunday, her fifth game this season with multiple 3-pointers
• Despite Clouden being held scoreless until 1:30 left in the second quarter on a free throw, and not making a field goal until 1:10 to play in first half for just three first half points, she netted 11 second half points to end with 14 points ... Clouden continues to score in double-figures in every game this season, now with 10 double-digit games, as part of 21-straight contests in her career, netting double-figures in 37 of her last 40 games played, tallying double-figures in all but three games last season ... in her career, Clouden has now scored in double-figures in 60 of 73 career games played ... Sunday was the ninth game this season and 31st time in her career that Clouden has led the team in scoring, as MSU is now 7-2 this season and 19-12 in her career.
• Junior guard Janai Crooms tied her MSU season-high with seven points and collecting six rebounds for her second-highest total of the season.
• Parks led the Spartans with seven rebounds, as she has snared five or more boards in eight of the 10 games ... Sunday was Parks' fourth game this season leading MSU in rebounding and the first MSU loss in doing so, now 3-1 on the season ... Parks has led the Spartans in the rebounding column in nine career games.
• Junior forward Alisia Smith swatted two blocks Sunday, for a new MSU career-high and tying her overall career-high, as she had two blocks last season during her time at Penn State, swatting two shots vs. Long Beach State on Nov. 29, 2019 ... Smith now has three rejections in the last two games in her four games played in a Spartan uniform.
• MSU's defense held Nebraska to 68 points, tying the fewest allowed in a Big Ten game this season, matching 68 vs. Iowa (12/12/20) ... Michigan State was held to a season-low 64 points on Sunday, the first time MSU has been held under 70 points this season.
• The Spartan reserves had a 15-14 bench scoring advantage, as Michigan State's bench has out-scored the opposition's reserves in all 10 games this season, including five by double-figures.
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