EAST LANSING, Mich. — In just the second doubleheader of the season, the Michigan State women’s basketball team faced off against Western Michigan Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center. Last season, the two teams met in Kalamazoo and the Spartans won an exciting game in overtime. This year’s game did not disappoint as the Spartans won a close battle, 65-62 to snap their two game losing streak and improving their record to 6-2.
Aside from the exciting play, the game was also similar to last year in that it was a slow, grind it out affair. The slow pace was evident in the first quarter as both teams struggled to score, MSU shot just 38 percent from the floor and Western Michigan shot 37 percent. Five minutes in, their was a total of five points scored in the game. Ultimately, the Broncos were able to escape the first quarter with a narrow 14-12 lead.
The second quarter was a completely different story for the Broncos as they found some rhythm on offense led by center Marley Hill and her 10 points. Western finished the quarter shooting 50 percent from the field.
On the other side, the Spartans continued to struggle from the floor as the team seemed to have no energy.
“We looked real tired and exhausted, we just couldn’t move,” Spartan coach Suzy Merchant said postgame. “Right now, our biggest problem is trying to fight through some of that fatigue and get some consistency, I felt like everybody shot an airball today.”
MSU shot just 27 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range, but it was able to force turnovers, and received help from its bench who gave 15 points in the quarter. Senior guard Branndais Agee and junior center Jenna Allen both finished with eight points to lead Michigan State and tie the game up at 32 heading into halftime.
The second half featured more of the same as both teams battled for command of the game. The Spartans found some life and imposed a full-court press and 2-3 zone that forced the Broncos into five turnovers in the third quarter. Senior guard Lexi Gussert came up big for the Spartans as she connected on a three pointer with 24 seconds left in the 3rd to give the Spartans a 48-45 lead and momentum heading into the fourth and final frame.
The fourth quarter saw both teams pick it up on the offensive end as they both shot over 40 percent from the field. Michigan State was able to edge it out due to their defense that forced four turnovers and a late 6-0 run capped off by a floater from sophomore point guard Taryn McCutcheon. The Broncos had a chance to tie the game at 65, but forward Jasmyn Walker turned the ball over on a last second drive to the basket to end it.
“It’s good to have close games, I mean we’re not going to blow everybody out certainly, we got to learn to buck up a little bit better and find ways to win games,” Merchant said.
Following the win, the Spartans will take a small break and prepare to take on No. 3 Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind on Dec 6th at 7:00 p.m.