Michigan State basketball honors its seniors, secures home win over Northwestern

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Aleesa Luecker

EAST LANSING – Senior night at the Breslin Center for the final home game of the season is always a special night. Michigan State made it a memorable game against the Northwestern Wildcats as they looked to end a three-game losing streak and head into Indiana for the season’s final game with a positive tournament outlook.

“I swear to you, that’s a good team that [MSU] played, and [Chris Collins] is one of the best coaches in this conference.”

The tip was in State’s favor, quickly resulting in Mady Sissoko’s foul shots going one for two at the line. Northwestern picked up the next five points, followed by Tyson Walker, picking up the next four. The game remained steady going into the first media timeout; the score was 9-7 Northwestern, and each team had seven rebounds. There were quite a few defensive stops on both ends of the court in the first few minutes of the game.

In the first 10 minutes of the game, Michigan State was in a scoring drought. MSU went 0-6 before graduate forward Malik Hall broke the scoring drought with a right-side layup at the 9:33 mark.

The next several minutes were quiet for both teams. Sophomore guard Tre Holloman, after hitting back-to-back threes, brought MSU within one with 3:22 left in the first half.

Northwestern’s largest lead of the half was 8 points, and State’s only lead was the first 17 seconds of the game from Sissoko’s opening foul shot. MSU only shot 22% from the field in the first half, going 7-32. Michigan State missed the last six shots in the half, going on another 3:22 scoring drought. The team only had two fast break points in the first half. Northwestern scored 10 for 27 shootings, 37% for the half.

Rebounding was in MSU’s favor at the half, with State picking up 23 total rebounds, 10 of which were on the offensive boards. Five of their points were second-chance points. Northwestern had 21 rebounds, 16 of which were on the defensive boards. Northwestern’s being one of the best defensive teams in the Big Ten showed through the night.

The second half started with senior guard AJ Hoggard driving through the lane, getting a quick two in the paint. Hall added another two moments later to bring State within one only a minute into the second half. Hall picked up another four on a turnaround jumper and a layup to put the Spartans in the lead three minutes into the second half, their first lead since the opening 17 seconds.

Northwestern followed the media timeout with a 6-0 run, retaking the lead. The game turned into a back-and-forth affair before a couple of steals by Hoggard led to 3 points on the offensive end for the Spartans. Eight minutes left in the game, MSU was holding onto a two-point lead.

At 5:25, the match was tied. Both sides shot free throws for the remainder of the game. Hall had a high-flying block that got the Izzone rocking. With 2:30 remaining in the final home game of the season, Tyson Walker hit his 2,000th career point, becoming one of the few to accomplish this in Spartan history. He followed that up with another bucket 45 seconds later to extend the lead.

With 16.6 seconds left, Northwestern called a timeout, down by two, and the shot clock was off. Everyone was on their feet in the Breslin Center. To add to the suspense, Tom Izzo called for a timeout before the inbound. Northwestern was able to inbound and get a shot off, but it was off the mark. A scrum on the floor for the ball resulted in a Northwestern foul, which put Holloman at the line for free throws. He calmly sank both shots to make it a 2-possession game with nine seconds left.

The Spartans rallied back and were able to walk away with a 53-49 victory on senior night.

Tyson Walker was the high scorer in the game with 19 points, 12 of which fell in the second half. He added five rebounds and five assists and, as mentioned earlier, joined the 2,000-point club. Malik Hall had a double-double, with 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Trey Holloman added 12 points off the bench, including two crucial free throws late in the game. Out-Spartans rebounded the Wildcats 46 to 35 as a team, picking up 10 points off the 19 offensive boards.

“The party is just getting started; it ain’t over,” Izzo said.

On senior night, Hall, Walker, Hoggard, graduate guard Steven Izzo, and senior guard Davis Smith could kiss the court and say goodbye to the Breslin Center one final time.

Michigan State now heads to Bloomington, IN., to play the Indiana Hoosiers in the final game of the regular season.

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