EAST LANSING, Mich. — Randy and Lisa Jankoska took their normal seats behind the Michigan State bench Tuesday night.
They both like sitting near the top row of the lower bowl at the Breslin Center, although not necessarily next to each other. It’s nothing superstitious; it’s just a setup they’ve found has worked well for them the past four years, just the right spot to watch their daughter, Tori, the third of their four children.
This night, though, was a little different than the others.
“If she hits her first one, watch out,” Randy Jankoska said.
“The hardest part is that people have actually been talking about it,” Lisa Jankoska said. “That puts more pressure on. I just hope she does it quickly.”
“It” was the Michigan State record for most points scored in a career. Tori Jankoska sat just seven points shy of surpassing Aerial Powers’ record of 1,817 points when the game against No. 11 and Big Ten leader Ohio State tipped off.
The senior guard proved her father right, obliged her mother and then went about putting on the most prolific scoring display in Michigan State women’s basketball history, as the Spartans earned their biggest win of the season, 94-75, over the Buckeyes. She scored 42 points on 14-of-25 shooting, including making eight 3-pointers, to not only set the program’s career record but also the single-game record as well. Maxann Reese had the previous record with 41 points against Iowa in 1999.
Two records and one big win in the same night. With mom and dad, older sister Jessie with her husband, Will, and their two daughters, and younger brother Jake in the stands, it doesn’t get much better.
“This goes down as one of the best nights I’ve ever had,” Tori Jankoska said.
Record No. 1
Top 5 scorers in Michigan State women’s basketball history:
Record No. 2
Top 5 scoring games in Michigan State women’s basketball history:
|Tori Jankoska||42||Ohio State||1-10-2017|
|Jasmine Hines||36||Ohio State||2-27-2016|
Jankoska needed just a little more than three minutes to take over the No. 1 all-time scoring spot, draining a 3-pointer from the right corner to give her eight points in the blink of an eye. She had 19 points at the end of the first quarter as Michigan State took a 32-22 lead. Her total was up to 31 at halftime, the final six points on a pair of 3-pointers that completed a 9-0 run by Michigan State, a spurt that turned a tight game into a 54-41 Spartans lead.
The second half wasn’t as frenetic as the first one. Michigan State never trailed in the game and led by as many as 20 points with a more controlled pace of play. Ohio State never got closer than nine points after halftime, although the threat of a surge by the Buckeyes behind All-American Kelsey Mitchell, who came into the game leading the Big Ten in scoring with a 23.7-point average, was always there.
Michigan State (13-4, 3-1 Big Ten) kept Ohio State (14-5, 4-1) at a two-arms-length distance with a team effort. Senior Branndais Agee had 16 points and nine rebounds, while redshirt freshman Victoria Gaines scored 11 points for the Spartans. Freshman point guard Taryn McCutcheon dealt with foul trouble but still had seven assists and just one turnover in 15 minutes of play.
Michigan State shot 50 percent (35 of 70) from the field, made 13 3-pointers and outrebounded Ohio State, 52-40. The Spartans limited Mitchell to 13 points, her lowest point total of the season, on 4-of-18 shooting.
As much emphasis as Jankoska puts on being an all-around team player — she also had six rebounds, seven assists and two steals on her stat line – this game and this night were about her. Two records, a big win and family there to share the moment.
“My family is the most important thing in my life. That’s the first thing I thank God for every single day,” she said. “They are the biggest support system anybody could ever have.”
Michigan State players throw wrapped t-shirts into the stands after pre-game introductions. Tuesday night, Jankoska found her mother and aimed Lisa’s way. A gentleman standing next to her, showing quick reflexes, snared the end-over-end throw with one hand, then gave it to mom.
“I think she deserves it,” Jankoska said. “I throw them at different people every game. She’s like, ‘Maybe you can throw one at me sometime?’ I’ve probably thrown her five or six since I’ve been here, which isn’t a lot. But she deserves all the credit.”
Younger brother Jake is a sophomore at Michigan State. He’s part of the male scout team that scrimmages against the women’s team every day in practice. That means he’s guarding his big sis from time to time. It’s an extension of the backyard basketball games they used to have growing up in Freeland, Mich., just on a tamer scale.
There wasn’t much, if any, talk about the scoring record in practice before the game Tuesday, Jake Jankoska said. Everyone knew the situation. When his sister hit her first shot, a 3-pointer from the top of the key 28 seconds into the game, he knew the record wouldn’t be far behind. He was right. Minutes later, she took a pass from McCutcheon in the right-hand corner, then let fly her historic jumper. It hit nothing but net at the 6:53 mark of the first quarter.
“I knew it was going in right when it left her hand,” Jake Jankoska said. “That was really cool how she got it fast. Whenever she makes the first one, you know she’s going to be on all night.”
Indeed, she was.