Michigan State Closes Out the Regular Season With a Loss at Minnesota

MICHIGAN STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
MICHIGAN STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (PHOTO: MSU SID)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Michigan State women's basketball closed out regular-season action with an 81-63 loss to Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Sunday.

The Spartans will be the No. 9 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. MSU and No. 8-seeded Northwestern will meet on Thursday, March 7 at 12 p.m. ET.

Michigan State had its two-game winning streak halted in the regular-season finale and fall to 19-10 overall and 9-9 in Big Ten action. Minnesota improves 20-9 overall and ends league play with a 9-9 mark. The Gophers earn the No. 7 seed and will face No. 10 Indiana.

For the sixth time this season, the Spartans were led in scoring by freshman guard Nia Clouden, who scored 18 points to go along with three rebounds. She has scored in double figures a team-leading 20 times this season. Redshirt-junior guard Shay Colley was the other MSU player in double figures with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Colley has scored in double figures 19 times this season.

Destiny Pitts scored 26 points to lead all scorers, while Kenisha Bell added 22 for the Gophers. For the game, Minnesota went 30-for-32 from the charity stripe.

The Spartans scored the first six points of the game on a pair of 3-pointers, but the Gophers scored the next seven to take its first lead 7-6. From that point, it was a tight first quarter with neither team taking more than a four-point advantage. Michigan State was led by seven first-quarter points from Clouden.

In the second quarter, Minnesota scored the first points of the period, before a Gaines layup put MSU on the board. In the midst of a Spartan scoring drought, the Gophers took their biggest lead of the half 31-20 at the end of the half. MSU went the final 5:03 minutes without scoring, as Minnesota ended the half on a 8-0 run.

The Spartans' offense came out hot in the second half, but the Gopher offense remained potent. The free throw line hurt MSU in the third period as Minnesota went 12-for-13 from the charity stripe during the stanza. The third quarter was MSU most productive quarter, scoring 23 points, while allowing 26.

Michigan State got most of its offense in the final period from the free throw line. The Spartans went 14-for-17 from the charity stripe in the final 10 minutes of play. Despite scoring 20 points in the quarter, MSU was not able to get the lead down to single digits, as the Gophers secured the win.

Post-Game Notes vs. Minnesota

• Sunday's MSU starting lineup of junior guards Shay Colley and Taryn McCutcheon, junior forward Victoria Gaines, freshman guard Nia Clouden and senior forward Jenna Allen was the 13th time this season that the Spartans have started with that quintet ... The Spartans are now 8-5 with that starting five.

• McCutcheon made her 93rd career start, needing just seven more for the 100 games played milestone.

• Allen, McCutcheon and Clouden are the only three Spartans to start all 29 games this season ... Colley and Gaines both made their 21st starts of the season Sunday ... Allen started the 56th game of her career, while Gaines made her 48th career start and Colley made the 42nd start of her career.

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