EAST LANSING, Mich. – Freshman guard Nia Clouden tied her career high with 18 points as No. 22 Michigan State captured its seventh-straight win, 89-74, against Florida Atlantic Thursday at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans have now won seven-straight games for the first time since starting the 2012-13 season with eight-straight wins. Michigan State ends non-conference play with a 10-1 record. With the loss, the Owls fall to 3-8.
Aside from Clouden’s performance, the Spartans were led once again by a double-double from senior center Jenna Allen, who scored 23 points and 10 rebounds. She also tied a career high with a team-high four steals. Sophomore forward Sidney Cooks also reached double figures with 15 points.
The Owls were led by 13 points from Ra’Kyra Gabriel, while Glenisha Harkless scored 11 off the bench.
The teams traded baskets early on before the Spartans broke out for an 8-0 run to take a15-7 lead with 5:59 left in the first quarter, leading to a FAU timeout. MSU pulled away with an 18-2 run over 5:12 to take a 25-9 advantage over the Owls. The Spartans led after the first 10 minutes 29-12 with the 29 points being the most MSU has scored this season in the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, FAU used a 7-0 run midway through the period to trim the MSU lead to 33-21 with 5:03 left in the half. A pair of Cooks free throws halted the run. The Spartans went over 4:00 without a field goal to keep FAU in the game. The Owls out-scored MSU 17-16 in the second quarter, as MSU took a 45-29 lead in to the locker room.
Florida Atlantic scored nine of the first 14 points of the third quarter, trailing MSU 50-38 with under seven minutes left in the quarter. Allen nailed a big 3-pointer and followed that up with a jumper to propel the Spartan lead to 52-38, leading to another Owl timeout. Freshman guard Tory Ozmentwas strong inside with four-straight points as MSU went up 60-44. MSU took its first 20-point lead of the game after an Allen jumper 66-46. The third quarter ended with an amazing half-court shot by redshirt-freshman guard Claire Hendrickson to give MSU a 22-point lead.
The Spartans scored six-straight points in 94 seconds to take its biggest lead of the game 85-61 with 5:00 left in the game. From that points, Michigan State cruised to the victory.
Michigan State will now take a break for the holidays. The Spartans will return to action on Sunday, Dec. 30 in their Big Ten opener against No. 16/15 Iowa in East Lansing at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Post-Game Notes vs. Florida Atlantic
• With the starting lineup of Nia Clouden, Taryn McCutcheon, Nia Hollie, Victoria Gaines and Jenna Allen, Michigan State has now had three different starting lineups. McCutcheon, Gaines and Allen are the only three Spartans to have started all 11 games. MSU is 2-0 with this starting lineup.
• The seven-game winning streak is the Spartans longest since winning the first eight games of the season during the 2012-13 season.
• With 15 points sophomore forward Sidney Cooks now has five double-figure scoring games. The Spartans are 5-0 this season when she scores in double figures. Since returning to the lineup after an injury, she has scored in double figures in three-straight games (Oregon, Hartford and Florida Atlantic).
• Freshman guard Nia Clouden tied a new career high with 18 points. She also scored 18 against Kennesaw State at the Cancun Challenge on Nov. 23. She also added a team-high assists and two steals.
• Senior center Jenna Allen registered her third double-double of the season and fifth of her career. She also had double-doubles against Bowling Green (Nov. 6) and Texas Southern (Dec. 2).
• All nine players that saw time on the court scored for the Spartans, including freshmen Clouden (18) and Claire Hendrickson (6), tying career highs.
• Michigan State were thieves on the night with 12 steals. This was the seventh time this season that the Spartans reached double-digits in steals.
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