Michigan State Women’s Basketball prepares for battle with No. 24 Notre Dame


MSU guard Nia Clouden attempts a layup in the 2019 Big Ten tournament against Maryland/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Tommy Cavanaugh, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich—With the 2021 basketball season in full swing, Michigan State women’s basketball is set to battle No. 24 Notre Dame at home on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the annual ACC/B1G Showdown. 

The Spartans will clash with their first Power Five opponent of the year in the Fighting Irish and hope to acquire their first ranked victory of the season. Notre Dame comes into this game ranked after knocking off No. 16 Oregon State 64-62 on Nov. 27 and Syracuse 82-56 on Nov. 14.

In the victory, graduate forward Maya Dodson led the way with 14 points and nine rebounds. She previously spent four years at Stanford.

The Fighting Irish  shot just under 40% from the field in their last two games and have distributed the scoring across their roster. However, they have been careless at times with the ball as they have 33 turnovers in those two contests.

The last time these two teams played was in 2019, MSU won that game over No. 15 Notre Dame 72-69 in South Bend thanks to 28 Nia Clouden points. 

Notre Dame is led by second-year head coach Niele Ivey, who replaced Muffett McGraw. McGraw stepped down at the end of the 2019-20 season after a 33-year tenure at Notre Dame that included nine final four berths and two national championships in 2001 and 2018

Ivey, who played at Notre Dame from 1997-2001, was McGraw’s associate head coach from 2015-19 and an assistant coach from 2007-15. She led the Fighting Irish to a 10-10 record in 2020-21 that included an 8-7 record in ACC play.

After losing two road games to Fordham and St. Francis Brooklyn by a combined six points on Nov. 21 and 23, MSU (6-2) has picked up back-to-back wins over Oakland (84-71) and Marshall (85-75) heading into tonight’s contest. 

In the win over Marshall, senior star guard Nia Clouden posted a team-leading 24 points along with eight assists and six rebounds. Graduate forward Alisia Smith continued to show dominance in the post with 20 points of her own on 7-for-11 shooting to go along with a perfect 6-for-6 mark from the free throw line. 

The Spartans played well on both sides of the ball against the Thundering Herd, but their defense was especially stellar, forcing 16 turnovers and holding Marshall to 30% from the field in the second half.

On average, Michigan State is outscoring their opponents by almost 20 points, including two 35-plus point wins over Morehead State and Niagara, and Thursday’s contest with the Irish will be their toughest test yet. 

                                                                                                            Cav’s Keys:

  • Heavy ball pressure | Notre Dame is averaging just over 15 turnovers a game and had 25 in their overtime loss to Georgia last week. If the Spartans can play solid defense for all 40 minutes and force turnovers, they have a great chance at victory.
  • Who else will make buckets? | With Senior Nia Clouden averaging 19.5 points per game, MSU will need another member of that starting five to step up early. Alisia Smith & Alyza Winston both need to play larger roles.
  • Rebound | In both of their losses, Michigan State was outrebounded by their opponents and allowed double-digit offensive rebounding nights. Limiting the Irish to one trip down the floor and ripping the ball off the glass and getting back in transition will be essential.


Prediction: Notre Dame 77, MSU 73

Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m. at the Breslin Center.