Nick Ward's big game helps Michigan State crush Hillsdale in exhibition

EAST LANSING - Aside from two late 3-pointers in the first half, No. 2 Michigan State held Division II Hillsdale to 17.9% shooting from the field Friday night, as the Spartans demolished the Chargers, 75-44, at the Breslin Center for MSU’s final exhibition game of the season.

MSU started the game on a 10-2 run and never looked back. The Spartans finished the first half with a 12-2 run to enter halftime with a 37-20 lead. Hillsdale scored 8 of its 20 points in the first half from the free throw line.

MSU extended its lead at one point to 30 points on back-to-back scores from Cassius Winston with just over eight minutes to play and held it there for the majority of the match.

Ward leads

After the 10-2 run to open the game, MSU was unable to put together consecutive field goals until midway through the first half. Sophomore forward Nick Ward finished with 13 rebounds and led all scorers with 14 points for a double-double.

Freshman Jaren Jackson drained his first college 3-pointer on a pick-and-pop from point guard Winston early in the second half. Jackson finished with behind Ward with 12 points and 13 boards, while Winston chipped in 11 points and 6 assists.

Miles Bridges was the only other Spartan to finish in double-figure scoring, despite 4-of-13 shooting with 10 points. Bridges, however, did chip in 3 rebounds and a pair of assists.

Defensive dominance

Hillsdale guard Ryan Badowski back-to-back triples inside the final minute of the first half for his team’s only 3-pointers in the half, otherwise the Chargers shot 3-for-28 in the first 20 minutes.

The Chargers shot better in the second half, 10-for-32 from the field. The Spartans managed to keep Hillsdale at 25%.

MSU forced 12 turnovers, led by two steals from Winston. Bridges finished the night with a steal and a game-high two blocks.

Different rotations

With added depth, coach Tom Izzo experimented with different combinations on the floor. Midway through the first half, Izzo sent forwards Gavin Schilling and Kenny Goins on the floor, along with point guards Lourawls Nairn Jr. and Winston. Jackson, freshman forward Xavier Tillman and Ben Carter also found time on the floor at the same time against the Chargers.

Sophomore point guard Connor George also found his way in the game after MSU extended its lead by 20 in the first half. Early in the second half, Goins found himself playing guard, while Carter and Tillman were in at forward.

Next up: Regular season

With the win, the Spartans finished the exhibition season with an unblemished 3-0 record. No. 2 MSU will host North Florida at the Breslin next Friday to open the regular season at 8 p.m.

It’s MSU’s only regular season game before playing No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14 in Chicago in the Champions Classic.

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© 2017, Detroit Free Press


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