WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)Nia Clouden scored 13 of her 23 points in the final 10-plus minutes to help No. 25 Michigan State turn aside a feisty Purdue rally, 71-64, and preserve the Spartans’ best start to a season in eight years on Sunday.
Alisia Smith added 15 points in her first double-digit scoring game, and Julia Ayrault scored 10 as Michigan State (8-0, 3-0) stretched its win streak to eight games, its first 8-0 start since the 2012-13 season.
The win also marks the first time Michigan State opened Big Ten play 3-0 since the 2013-14 season.
Kayana Traylor scored 16 points to lead Purdue (5-3, 2-2), which was seeking win No. 300 for coach Sharon Versyp. The Boilermakers mounted a ferocious comeback after the Spartans opened the second half with an easy layup for a 14-point lead.
The Boilermakers held Michigan State to 4-of-17 shooting in the third quarter, including 0-for-4 from distance, as they clawed to within a point, 41-40, on a pair of Jenelle Grant free throws capping a 15-2 run over seven minutes.
Grant, who finished with seven points, Traylor and Karissa McLaughlin (nine points) were key in Purdue’s rally.
In the last 21 seconds of the third, however, Ayrault and Clouden scored in the paint, pushing the lead to 45-40.
Purdue came within 66-63 with 25 seconds left to play on a Rokia Doumbia basket but Purdue made five of six free throws the rest of the way, the final two by Clouden.
Her 23 points gives her 986 for her career.
Michigan State hosts No. 14 Maryland on Thursday while Purdue is at Rutgers Thursday.
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