In their 2013-14 season home opener, Michigan State destroyed Canisius College, defeating the Golden Griffins 102-54 on Thursday night.
Coming off a loss to Notre Dame, the Lady Spartans were eager to play on their home court.
“After Monday’s game, everything is just clicking and I’m so ready to play another good team and focus in on being aggressive,” freshman Aerial Powers said.
Powers lead the team in points with 19, just above fellow freshman Tori Jankoska, who had 17 total.
With three freshmen on the court, senior Annalise Pickrel says she is trying to be an upperclassman leader for the young team.
“The last three years I’ve seen it from our captains, so I just kind of learned that’s the attitude you have to have,” Pickrel said. “The younger girls are always excited and pumped up for everything, but there’s got to be those veteran players on the court to stay composed, and are willing to show the younger girls what it takes.”
Winning the game by a 48-point margin, coach Suzy Merchant is happy about the win, but said they are still not where she wants the team to be.
“We did a much better job of pushing the basketball, I thought we were a little more conservative against Notre Dame,” Merchant said. “Everyone kind of got involved, the aggressiveness was there, we didn’t always get them, but we were certainly looking a little bit better.”
Merchant was also pleased by the Spartans’ ability to bring in 45 rebounds. And even though one resulted in a turnover, she was still proud.
“It was nice to see them fighting over rebounds, we couldn’t get one at Notre Dame so it’s kind of nice to see. I was even happy when they all went together and traveled, I was like, ‘Good, that was a good turnover, at least we are getting after it a little bit more,’” she said.
Thursday’s game was more special for the Spartans, since their former teammate Cetera Washington was in attendance. Washington was not there to support her old team, however, she is now the Assistant Coach at Canisius, which Merchant said played a large role in scheduling this matchup.
Along with three new recruits who recently signed letters of intent to join the team in the 2014-15 season, the Spartans hope to bring that momentum to their upcoming games. Next the team will compete against the Dayton Flyers on Sunday, November 17.
“Communication wise we need to talk more on defense,” Powers said. “We start practices off doing defensive drills and then sometime we get in the game and it doesn’t carry over as well as we should, so I guess we’re really going to have to focus in the next two days of practice and really work on ball screens because Dayton is really good when it comes to that.”
Tip-off versus the University of Dayton is set for 2:00 p.m. at the Breslin Center.
Erin Eschels is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports
Photo: Erin Eschels