EAST LANSING, Mich. — Wednesday night at the Breslin Center, the Michigan State women’s basketball team (15-12, 5-9) took on the Wisconsin Badgers (9-19, 2-13) in the final home game of the season. The Spartans were able to give their seniors one last victory at home, defeating the Badgers 69-61.
Wisconsin guard Cayla McMorris showed up big in the first quarter, coming away with 12 points on a very efficient 4-of-5 shooting. The Spartans struggled to defend her, losing her on a couple of screens that led to two wide open three pointers. Following the senior guards lead, the Badgers shot 46 percent in the quarter.
The Spartans on the other hand struggled to find the bottom of the basket, shooting just 31 percent in the quarter. Some of the credit goes to Wisconsin who employed a solid zone against a Spartans team that hasn’t found success against that defensive set all season. Due to a timely three minute scoring drought, MSU was able to hang around ending the quarter down two, 16-14.
After shooting well in the first quarter, the Badgers couldn’t buy a bucket in the second, making just two of their ten field goal attempts in the second. The Spartans played great defense, forcing the Badgers into multiple scoring droughts and shutting down McMorris. The guard took only one shot in the quarter after coming out hot to start the game. The Spartan offense still struggled, but with some timely baskets from guard Branndais Agee and the Badgers going 1-for-9 to end the quarter, MSU headed to halftime leading 29-26.
To start the third quarter, Wisconsin came out on a blazing 13-6 run to take a 41-36 lead with 4:42 left to go in the quarter. It seemed like the Badgers might run away with it as the Spartans continued their shooting struggles. However, a huge four-point swing gave MSU some much needed momentum.
It began with a layup from guard Shay Colley that led to her going to the line for an attempt at a three point play. Colley missed the free throw, but senior Taya Reimer grabbed the offensive rebound and put it in for two more points. This sequence began a 6-0 run that helped MSU end the quarter tied with Wisconsin 47-47.
After struggling from the field for most of the game, the Spartans were able to connect in the final quarter. MSU had not shot better than 35 percent in a quarter up until the fourth, where they shot 46 percent. This spike in offense primarily came from McCutcheon who hit some clutch threes to propel the Spartans.
“I thought Taryn was really big, she just kinda had an attitude where she was like ‘enough’s enough’ and that’s what you have to do, you have to be able to step up a little bit,” said head coach Suzy Merchant.
Both teams battled up until the halfway point of the quarter where MSU used a 6-0 run to get a ten-point lead and ultimately seal the game.
Emotions ran high after the game as the seniors were honored with their families, enjoying their final moments in the green and white at home. However, guard Lexi Gussert still had an eye on the future as the Spartans have one final game left against Purdue on Feb 24 at 2 p.m. in West Lafayette.
“We’re not down yet, getting a big road victory against Purdue and making a run in the tournament, could still put us in the position (to make the NCAA tournament),” said Gussert. “Obviously, you win the big tournament you go on so we still have a lot to play for.”