EAST LANSING, Mich. - Career-high performances from senior Jenna Allen and freshman Nia Clouden push the No. 21 Michigan State women's basketball team past No. 16 Iowa, 84-70, on Alumni Day Sunday at the Breslin Center.
With the win, the Spartans improve to 11-1 this season and start Big Ten action 1-0. MSU is now 19-18 all-time in B1G openers. Iowa falls to 9-3 this season and 0-1 in league contests. Michigan State has now won eight-straight contests for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
The Spartans were led by a career-high 27 points from freshman guard Nia Clouden who previously had scored 18 points on two occasions. Senior center Jenna Allen was huge for the Spartans with 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. She now has four double-double this season and six for her career. After missing three games, redshirt-sophomore forward Mardrekia Cook battled for 14 points and five boards, while junior forward Nia Hollie added 10 points off the bench.
Iowa's Megan Gustafson led all scorers with 30 points and 14 boards, while becoming the all-time scorer in Iowa women's basketball history.
After MSU scored the first basket of the game, the Hawkeyes went on a 12-0 run, leading to a Spartan timeout with 5:54 left in the first quarter. Allen scored five-straight for the Spartans to trim the Iowa lead to 15-9. Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley's first basket since returning from injury made the score 15-14 and stretched the run to 10-0 with a under four minutes left in the period. Allen came up big with a trey with 1:40 left in the quarter that tied the scored 19-19 as MSU fought to get back into the game.
In the second quarter, Allen and Gustafson continued to lead their squads. With the Hawkeyes leading early on in the period, a pair of Cook free throws made it a one possession game, 36-35 with 4:25 left in the half. The MSU offense went cold to end the half going over three minutes with out a field goal, as Iowa took an eight-point lead 43-35. With less than a second left in the quarter, Clouden was fouled halting the cold spell. The freshman made two of three from the charity stripe and MSU trailed 43-37 at the half.
Michigan State scored the first eight points of the second half to re-take the lead 45-43. It was the Spartans first lead since Clouden scored the first basket of the game. After a pair of Taryn McCutcheon free throws MSU took what was its largest lead of the game 54-48 with 3:30 left in the period. Iowa went over five minutes without a field goal, as MSU out-scored the Hawkeyes, 23-10 in the third.
The Spartans took its first double-digit lead 69-58 after a layup by Allen with7:16 remaining. Iowa wasn't done yet, using a 7-0 run cut the lead to 73-66 before Clouden bounced back with basket to re-take a double-digit lead, 79-68. From that point, lead in double figures for the remainder of the game.
Michigan State now hits the road for a two-game road swing, taking on Northwestern on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET. MSU will conclude the trip at Indiana on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. ET.
Post-Game Notes vs. Iowa
• The eight-game winning streak is the Spartans longest since winning the first eight games of the season during the 2012-13 season. This is also Michigan State's best start since beginning the 2012-13 season 13-1.
• With the starting lineup of Nia Clouden, Taryn McCutcheon, Shay Colley, Victoria Gaines and Jenna Allen, Michigan State has had three different starting lineups. McCutcheon, Gaines and Allen are the only three Spartans to have started all 12 games. MSU is 5-1 with this starting lineup.
• Michigan State is 24-13 in home Big Ten openers in 37 years in the league. Overall, Michigan State is 19-18 all-time in Big Ten openers, having won six of its last eight. This was the first time that Michigan State has started Big Ten play against Iowa since Jan. 6, 1984. In that match up the Spartans fell to the Hawkeyes, 70-62.
• Freshman guard Nia Clouden set a new career high with 27 points against the Hawkeyes. She previously had 18 points. Kennesaw State at the Cancun Challenge on Nov. 23 and against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 20. She now has nine double-digit scoring games with this being her first 20-point contest.
• Senior center Jenna Allen registered her fourth double-double of the season and sixth of her career. She also had double-doubles against Bowling Green (Nov. 6), Texas Southern (Dec. 2) and Florida Atlantic (Dec. 20).
• After missing six games with an injury, Shay Colley returned to the lineup. Michigan State is now 5-1 when Colley starts.
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