EditorsNote: rewords lede; fixes “scored” in sixth graf
Nick Ward helped spark an offensive surge that allowed No. 8 Michigan State to cruise to an 81-55 victory over Northwestern on Wednesday in East Lansing, Mich.
Ward scored all 21 of his points in the first half when Michigan State went on a 21-2 run that turned a tight game into a blowout.
With the Spartans leading 26-24, things quickly took off as Michigan State scored 11 straight and followed a Northwestern bucket with 10 more in a row.
Ward was one of five Michigan State players in double figures. Cassius Winston scored 13 points and handed out 12 assists. Xavier Tillman scored 14 and grabbed eight rebounds, and Kyle Ahrens, who started in place of the injured Joshua Langford, scored 11.
Matt McQuaid added 10 points for the Spartans (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten), and Kenny Goins pulled down 12 rebounds.
Dererk Pardon scored 19 for Northwestern (9-5, 0-3), which shot just 3 of 18 from 3-point range. Senior Vic Law, who entered the night averaging nearly 19 points a game, was held to just five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
The first half was tightly contested for the first 12 minutes. But then the Michigan State offense came alive and ignited the game-changing run.
The halftime break did little to slow down the Spartans. Northwestern coach Chris Collins called a timeout just 41 seconds into the half after Michigan State scored four quick points.
It only delayed the inevitable as Northwestern remained winless in Big Ten play after losing its first two by two points each — on the road against Indiana and at home against then-fifth-ranked Michigan.
Langford missed the game after injuring his left ankle in a win over Northern Illinois on Saturday. It was the first game the junior has missed in his career. He will see a specialist later in the week, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
—Field Level Media