Looking for six wins in as many games, the No. 25 Rutgers women’s basketball team will take on Michigan State this afternoon in East Lansing, Michigan.
The Spartans (12-6, 7-6) are coming off a 76-73 win at home against Purdue, thanks to a buzzer-beater from Tory Ozment. Previously, the Scarlet Knights (10-3, 6-3) took down the Boilermakers (6-13, 3-12) 75-57 on the road. Earlier in the month, Michigan State fell to then-ranked 22 Northwestern, another team Rutgers defeated in its recent stretch.
As a team, the Spartans are averaging 77.4 points per game (PPG), while holding opponents to 68.9. Much of their scoring comes from Nia Clouden, who puts up an average of 19.2 PPG, 1 of only 3 players for Michigan State to average double-digit scoring. Clouden leads the team in both assists with 73 and steals with 30.
Michigan State's Alisia Smith is coming off a double-double against Purdue. She recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes played and is averaging 10.2 PPG and more than five rebounds per game (RPG).
With the best defense in the Big Ten when it comes to points allowed, the Knights have allowed an average of 56 PPG. The gear that helps the defense run is senior guard Tekia Mack, who has recorded 38 defensive rebounds, 16 forced turnovers, 36 steals and eight blocks in 10 games. She is third on Rutgers with 11.8 PPG.
Senior forward Mael Gilles has 30 defensive rebounds, 16 forced turnovers, 28 steals and six blocks. On the offensive side, she is averaging 7.3 PPG and has been a starter in all 13 games.
Making things happen on each side of the ball for the Knights is senior guard Arella Guirantes. She leads Rutgers in points per game with 22.2 and is 1 of the top 15 best scorers in the country. She also has approximately 6 RPG, leads the Knights in blocks with 28, assists with 68 and has 29 steals, good for second on this Rutgers team. She is nearly perfect from the free-throw line, shooting 91 percent.
True freshman guard Diamond Johnson sits second in the nation with her approximately 53 percent from deep. She has 40 successful shots from behind the arc so far and has become a staple of the starting lineup as of recently. Johnson is second for the Knights with 18.7 PPG.
Recently, head women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer has stuck to the same starting lineup of Johnson, Guirantes, Gilles, Mack and sophomore forward Tyia Singleton. In closer matchups, Stringer will keep the majority of the starters on the floor for 40 minutes.