MSU tops Illinois behind Clouden’s game-high 28 points, leaving Merchant to believe her star player deserves more national attention

Local Sports
MSU top Illinois, 81-60

MSU women’s basketball coach, Suzy Merchant and star guard Nia Clouden look up court during MSU’s 81-60 win over Illinois, on Feb. 4, 2021.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – When Suzy Merchant needs an answer, offensively, she turns to her star point guard, Nia Clouden.

That was the case on Thursday at the Breslin Center. Clouden had a game-high 28 points, and 5 assists in the Spartans 81-60 victory over Illinois.

“Sometimes we don’t know who our second and third scorers, some nights, are going to be, but we always know Nia is going to get us something,” MSU basketball coach, Suzy Merchant said. “Her vision has really improved as a guard, and that’s what the best players in the country do.”

Clouden came out of the gates on fire, scoring MSU’s first ten points of the game.

The second quarter is when the Spartans started to run away with this one. A 14-0 run, that was capped off by a Clouden three-pointer, led to MSU taking a 51-28 lead into halftime.

“I feel really confident and I feel really comfortable out there,” Clouden said. “I think that comes from knowing that my teammates trust me and knowing that my coaches trust me to do what I feel is right, when I’m out there on the court.”

Merchant without a doubt trusts Clouden, when she’s on the court, that’s why she feels her star player deserves more national attention.

“She’s been the most consistent player. She’s an all-conference player. I know she’s not on the Lieberman Watch List as one of the best guards in the country, and I don’t know why,” Merchant said. “Her number have been unbelievable. She’s top four in the league in scoring. Almost top five in assists. She’s been consistent and just someone we can rely on.”

On Fighting Illini side of things, East Lansing graduate and freshman Aaliyah Nye scored 9 points on 3-6 shooting from behind the arc. Nye is averaging 7.1 points per game in her first season with the Illini.

Michigan State stays home for its next game. The Spartans welcome in Northwestern on Sunday at 3 pm.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.