MSU women’s basketball opens season with exhibition win over SVSU


MSU guard Kamaria McDaniel drives against SVSU during MSU’s 90-56 exhibition win. / Photo Credit: Sarah Smith

Allie Cohen, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – On Sunday afternoon, the Michigan State Spartans faced the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals for their only exhibition game of the season, and came out on top 90-56. Junior transfer Gabby Elliot and grad transfer Kamaria McDaniel led the Spartans each with 14 points, followed by freshman Theryn Hallock with 13.

Head coach Suzy Merchant was impressed with her bench after the lack of depth she had last season due to injuries. “As good as our depth was, we have a couple more guys who will be ready to be in uniform soon who will be competing with other people for a spot in the rotation,” said Merchant. “You don’t just get to play because you have in the past and this team is ready to work for it.” 

The first quarter for the Spartans was all over the place. MSU played strong defense, forcing 10 turnovers, but only shot 5-23 from the floor. The first points on the board came from Cardinal guard Tyler Schied, which was SVSU’s only lead in the game.

With 7:04 in the first left, MSU had already attempted 10 shots and only three were successful. Both Mcdaniel and Elliot got their first points in an MSU uniform off of SVSU turnovers, which brought the Spartans lead to 8-2 with 6 minutes to go. Both teams had multiple droughts, and there were minutes at a time without baskets from either team. The first quarter ended 17-12 MSU. 

MSU started the second quarter similar to the first. Strong defense and disappointing offense. The Spartans shooting numbers did increase from 21% FG in the first quarter to 35% FG in the second, but still, SVSU kept the game close.

At one point in the quarter, Cardinal Jessica Massey had dwindled the MSU lead to just five. With 5 minutes left in the half, both MSU and SVSU were displaying sloppy basketball. Too many fouls and turnovers from each team led to an abundance of whistles. Although MSU did not have 19 turnovers in the first half like SVSU, they had 7 of their own to go along with the poor shooting numbers.

Coming back after the half, MSU started to pick up the pace. More than doubling their shooting percentage from the first half, the Spartans shot 60% in the second half. MSU went on multiple runs leading to them outscoring the Cardinals 30-18 in the third quarter alone.

The quality of play picked up as well as both MSU and SVSU significantly lowered turnovers in the third. MSU had just two while SVSU had four. Hallock decided to make her mark on the game in this quarter scoring 6 points, snagging two rebounds and dishing out two assists. 

“Her effort is phenomenal, she’s a focus and finishes it at the rim type kid,” said Merchant. “I was really impressed with her and I have been. She has some work to do but she’s willing to learn and play really hard. She creates results.”  

The third quarter ended with a 20-point MSU lead and the Spartans continued to play hot in the fourth quarter, leading to a 90-56 win over the Cardinals. Bench players Brooklyn Rewers, Stephanie Visscher and Jayla James looked good scoring a combined 12 points. 

The Spartans shot the ball at  42.7% from the floor and scored 29 points off turnovers in total in the win. The Cardinals fought hard and showed some grit but 26 turnovers were their ultimate demise.

MSU showed a lot of hustle and speed defensively but if their shooting inconsistencies continue, it will create issues for them in the regular season. The bench depth is much larger than last year which should help MSU, but the Spartans need a defined leader now that guard Nia Clouden has joined the WNBA. MSU’s next game is Nov. 7th, when they tip off the regular season against Delaware State at 12:00 p.m. in the Breslin Center.