The main takeaways from Michigan State’s duel with No. 17 Maryland


MSU guard Deedee Hagemann, along with her teammates, gather together during a timeout against Minnesota on Jan. 23, 2022/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Owen Oszust, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State fell 67-62 to No. 17 Maryland in what was a back-and-forth affair all the way to the end. The Spartans battled and never gave up despite being outscored 21-15 in the opening segment. Angel Reese had 25 points and Diamond Miller had 14 points for the Terrapins. 

Here were the most notable takeaways for the Spartans from the contest:

MSU’s defensive rotation needs to be much better

Coach Suzy Merchant was frustrated with her team in the first half due to MSU’s inability to rotate on defense. Merchant seemed to be especially frustrated with both Tayier Parks and Alisia Smith.

MSU forward Taiyier Paris attempts a contested layup against No. 12 Maryland/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Michigan State ended up letting Maryland score an astounding 32 points in the paint, while the Spartans only scored 18 in the paint. It was just too easy for Reese, Miller, and Shyanne Sellers to drive to the glass. 

The past few games have been strong for MSU’s forwards, especially in the paint, but tonight was the exception. Smith seemed to be gassed on multiple occasions, and Parks got two personal fouls in the first quarter. Maryland is a really good team at penetrating the cup, but it could’ve been made a little bit more difficult.

Nia Clouden is still one of the best players in the Big Ten

Nia Clouden is all that needs to be said. The senior guard finished with 22 points and hit a career-high six 3-pointers. Clouden had an impressive 15 points in the third quarter alone, including a triple at the buzzer to send MSU to the final frame with momentum.

MSU guard Deedee Hagemann (0) talks with Nia Clouden (24) during the Spartans’ 74-71 home win over Minnesota on Jan. 23, 2022/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Something that’s been interesting to watch down the stretch has been Clouden’s ability to not get frustrated with things not going her way. In the first quarter, Clouden thought she was fouled on multiple occasions, but the referees held their whistles. 

Clouden fought through that, and her body language remained positive for a majority of the game. It clearly paid off as she was able to have yet another fantastic night. We’re watching a super star currently at MSU, and Clouden should be drafted at some point in the WNBA Draft this summer.

Maryland’s second-chance points made the difference

17 to four second chance points in favor of Maryland. That’s the only other statistic besides points in the paint that was one-sided towards the Terrapins in this contest. Both teams shot 39% from the field, and MSU was even better from beyond the arc, shooting 33% while Maryland shot 27%.

Defensive rebounds were the exact same as well at 28, and the Terrapins only had two more offensive rebounds. It was, overall, very even on the scoring sheet besides the second-chance depleting them. The Spartans just need to limit those small things and they could beat anyone in the Big Ten. At the same time, though, they could lose to anyone in this conference as well.

MSU forward Alisia Smith attempts a layup in the Spartans’ 63-53 home loss to No. 25 Rutgers/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

The Spartans are set to head to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers on Sunday at 3 p.m. MSU will look to start a new winning streak.