MSU seniors go out on top in final game at the Breslin

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — The 2018 seniors for the Spartans played their last home game at the Breslin Center Wednesday night against Wisconsin. The five seniors, Branndais Agee, Lexi Gussert, Taya Reimer, Kennedy Johnson and Kiara Carter will be graduating this May, leaving the team with five new spots to fill.

Agee has been with the Spartans for six years. Averaging about 24 minutes per game in her career, the guard has been a true asset to the team.

“She (Agee) could have easily given up,” coach Suzy Merchant said. “She’s had a couple pins in her feet and a couple ACLs. She’s been getting shots in her ankles all year. That kid has really fought a lot. She came in here with something to prove and I think she’s gotten better every year. And she also plays for her family. Her mom is a really special lady and she has four kids in that family and her mom basically raised her on her own. It’s just a really cool success story. Brandi is probably, of all the kids standing here, has faced the most adversity and has always fought through.”

Agee has a long list of accomplishments during her time at Michigan State. She is fourth in the career record books for three-point shooting percentage at 36 percent. She became the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1000 career points, achieving that at the game against Connecticut on Nov. 25.

Agee’s career high was 30 points against Minnesota in February 2017. She also is 16th in rebounds with 661 in her career at MSU. After the 2016 season, Agee was named Most Improved Player and earned the Spartan Hustle Award at the 2017 team banquet.

“It’s been a great journey,” Agee said. “I had a lot of ups and downs. I think it grew me. Especially a lot of my downs, a lot of injuries that I went through. A lot of bad games. I think those helped me grow into the person I am today. A lot of people can’t handle the tough part of basketball and just life. So I think I grew a lot with handling that and I grew more with God. And learning that I’ve got to stay in faith and be patient and trust him and know that everything that’s happening to me is all a part of god’s plan. It’s all a part of me continuing my journey.”

This season Agee averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. She had 16 double-figure scoring games this season, along with two double-doubles. Agee’s highest-scoring game this season took place at Indiana, where she earned 21 points.

Gussert has played for the Spartans all four years of her college career. Averaging 15 minutes per game in her career, Gussert has been a team player on and off the court.

“I think Lexi ties that whole class together to be honest, because of her love affair with Michigan State is so genuine and real,” coach Merchant said. “She doesn’t care about anything but this university and this program adn what’s best for it. It’s never about her and it’s always about the person to her right and to her left and those are hard kids to find.”

Shooting 34 percent behind the arc, Gussert was interchangeable as a forward and guard. She hit a career-high number of four three-pointers  against Minnesota in 2015. Gussert was named Miss Basketball in Michigan in 2014. She also received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award at the 2017 team banquet.

This season, Gussert struggled with an elbow injury in January. She missed out on five games because of it. Although her injury slowed her season down, the Spartan guard achieved a season high of 14 points twice this year. She also had three double-figure scoring games this season.

Johnson, a forward for the Spartans has devoted four years to Spartan basketball. Averaging 10 minutes per game in her career at MSU. Johnson’s career high of 18 points took place against the College of Charleston in November 2017. Johnson’s strength and height has helped the Spartans throughout her years at State.

“It hadn’t really hit any of us, but I think it all kind of just hit at once,” Reimer said. “I think like especially Lexi going through and Kennedy I’m really close with, and I think that that kind of got me emotional. But it was really fun night.”

Shooting 44 percent throughout her Spartan career, Johnson was able to average 3 points per game. Johnson had a career high of eight rebounds and had five double-figure scoring games.

This season Johnson averaged 3 points per game while playing 10 minutes per game. The Spartan forward played in 26 games this season.

After transferring from Notre Dame, Reimer has been a forward for the Spartans for two years. Over the two-year period, Reimer averaged 23.6 minutes per game, while starting 40 of the 58 games she participated in.

“These are some of my closest friends that I have in life,” Reimer said. “It’s such a short time but I don’t know, that’s just the atmosphere, that’s just the program, how the program is and I think how this university is. It’s just a family atmosphere; a family feel. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. I think that it is really special that we’ve all gotten so close.”

During her career at Notre Dame, the forward was named second-team ALL-ACC. In just two years at MSU, Reimer was able to have 23 double-figure scoring games. Averaging five rebounds and 8.8 points overall, Reimer’s career at MSU has been significant for the Spartans.

This season Reimer had a high of 20 points against Oakland. The Spartan forward averaged eight points and 4.3 rebounds in 2017-18. Reimer received the Pat Canning Coaches award at the 2017 banquet. She scored her career 1000th point against UConn on Nov. 25.

“Everything from a walk-on to a sixth-year kid and a transfer and everything in between,” coach Merchant said. “Just to see them come together from different backgrounds, it’s a special night for sure. I’ve seen a lot of growth in them.”

The Spartans will move on to play their last season game against Purdue on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Big Ten Tournament play starts up in Indianapolis, Ind. on Feb. 28.

“We got the win (against Wisconsin), we got another big road test at Purdue and from there we can still keep building,” Gussert said. “I think there’s still a lot of fight in all of us. I think we’re just gonna keep on keying in each practice to keep building from there and knowing that we still have fight in us and we’re still gonna work our butts off.”

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