Kenny Goins and the rest of their teammates came to their rescue.
The fifth-year senior led a balanced effort with 14 points and 12 rebounds to help No. 6 Michigan State continue its hold on first-place in the Big Ten with a 69-55 victory over No. 13 Maryland on Monday night.
The Spartans (17-2, 8-0), in winning their 12th straight game, are alone atop the conference standings after beating the previously second-place Terrapins (16-4, 7-2).
Michigan State got 14 points and seven assists points from Winston after shaking off a slow start, a career-high 12 points from freshman Aaron Henry, and 10 points from Matt McQuaid. Ward was scoreless for the first time in his career while battling foul problems and playing just 14 minutes.
MSU hits the road for two more games this week, starting Thursday at Iowa (7 p.m./FS1).
The Spartans fed off their eager home crowd, which hadn’t watched them in 13 days, and the pregame return of Miles Bridges. The former star and current Charlotte Hornets guard kissed the midcourt Spartan helmet, a senior tradition he missed by leaving for the NBA after his sophomore season.
MSU came out and connected on 7 of its first 16 shots, including four 3-pointers, in the first 8 1/2 minutes. McQuaid hit a pair from deep, and Gabe Brown and Goins connected on back-to-back 3s as part of a 10-point run to put MSU ahead 18-6 with 11:39 to play in the first half.
Maryland, which made just 3 of 18 shots to open the game, quickly recovered and rattled off a 14-2 run to tie the game at 20-all on a Jalen Smith jumper.
But the Spartans scored the final 11 points of the half, with freshman Thomas Kithier getting two baskets and two rebounds as Ward was in foul trouble. Goins’ driving layup with 39 seconds to go sent MSU into halftime up 31-29.
Maryland had one more late push to cut MSU’s lead in half to 11 points with 5:38 to play before the Spartans rattled off eight straight points, including an off-hand reverse layup by Winston after a behind-the-back dribble-drive in the paint.
MSU had a 29-9 edge in fast-break points and got 14 points off 12 Maryland turnovers.
Ward battled foul trouble from the start, picking up two in the first half, then a quick one 39 seconds into the second period. He got whistled for his fourth with 13:33 to play.
It was the first time in Ward’s career he went scoreless, but he had five rebounds.
Winston struggled with his shot early, making just 2 of 7 in the first half and scoring just five points after posting a career-high 29 points at Nebraska on Thursday en route to earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors Monday.
However, the junior point guard got hot early in the second half, opening the period with a 3-pointer to extend the Spartans’ run to 14 straight points. And Winston’s driving layup and free throw was part of another 8-0 run that built MSU’s cushion to 22 points.
Winston finished 5 of 13 from the field and just 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Maryland leading scorer Bruno Fernando had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Aaron Wiggins’ 15 points led the Terrapins, who made just 34.4 percent from the field.
With third-leading scorer Joshua Langford still out with a walking boot on his left foot, the Terrapins took the Spartans’ primary offensive threats Winston and Ward out of the game early.
And MSU got contributions up and down the lineup.
Goins dominated on the glass early and was able to hit from outside and inside, making 6 of 12 shots. He also had three steals, two blocks and two assists.
Henry, who started his third straight game, made 6 of 7 shots, grabbed six rebounds and added four assists.
Xavier Tillman added 10 points, and Kyle Ahrens, who returned from a two-game absence, scored a bucket and had two assists in 12 minutes off the bench.