MSU women’s basketball loses close game in Big Ten/ACC challenge


Sarah Smith

Kamaria McDaniel drives to the basket during Michigan State’s loss to Georgia Tech on December 1, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Allie Cohen, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – On Thursday night, Michigan State faced Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC challenge but fell 66-63, bringing the Spartans their third loss in a row. MSU put up a hard fight, but irresponsible mistakes proved costly. 

“We should’ve won this one,” said head coach Suzy Merchant. “That’s the disappointing part. People need to start getting a little more determined and are still concerned about smaller things. Some people have stepped up, we’re right there. Again, we just need a few more people to do their job night in and night out.”

The Spartans started out slow once again, a common trend for them. They shot 20% in the first six minutes of the game and turned over the ball seven times in just over three minutes. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of this and went on a 9-0 run in that time that was led by guard Cameron Swartz.

With the score at 14-7, Georgia Tech went on a drought of its own and the Spartans went on an 8-0 run, which brought the score to 15-14 to end the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, both teams played a close game, with the score being within a single possession for all but 40 seconds. 

MSU went on a drought that lasted two minutes and 36 seconds, but Georgia Tech never took advantage of this. Due to sloppy play from both teams, there were many opportunities for free throws. The Yellow Jackets established dominance at the line, making five of six attempts, while the Spartans had almost double the opportunities but only made 7-11 attempts this quarter. Free throw shooting is a recurring issue the Spartans have been dealing with this season and have yet to fix it.  

“We left 10 points at the free throw line,” Merchant said. “We did that against Oregon and we didn’t take advantage of it. We have to do a better job. People are getting there but we can’t shoot 60 percent from the line. We got there 25 times which is what you want to do but we aren’t improving once we get there.” 

There were seven lead changes in the second quarter, and with 40 seconds until half time Guard Inés Noguero hit a three-pointer that brought Georgia Tech ahead 35-30. The half ended 37-32 in favor of the Yellow Jackets. 

The third quarter continued to be a close one, with the Yellow Jackets on top for the first seven and a half minutes. With two minutes and 30 seconds left Kamaria McDaniel hit a shot from behind the arch that gave the Spartans their first lead of the second half. McDaniel accounted for 12 of 18 of the Spartans’ total points in the third quarter alone, and was the game’s top performer for the night, scoring 26 points, three boards, and a block. 

In the final 2:30 of the quarter there were four lead changes but entering the final 10 minutes of the game the score was tied. 

Head Coach Suzy Merchant converses with her coaching staff during Michigan State’s loss to Georgia Tech on December 1, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM (Sarah Smith)

With nine minutes left,  McDaniel tied the game 53-53, but that was the closest the score ever was. MSU put up a hard fight but continued to trail the rest of the game. There were 10 different times that the Spartans were only down by only one possession, but the Yellow Jackets continued making shots and taking advantage when MSU couldn’t. With 15 seconds left on the clock and MSU trailing by 3, Matilda Ekh attempted to tie the game but her shot didn’t make it in. 

The Spartans got another opportunity to tie the game with seven seconds left after Georgia Tech tipped the ball out of bounds. McDaniel sent the ball up from behind the arch but once again the ball hit the rim and went out. Ekh got the rebound and attempted to bring the ball out herself but there was not enough time and with that, the game ended 66-63 Georgia Tech. 

After a disappointing loss, the Spartans will be back in action on December 5, at the Breslin Center against the Purdue Boilermakers to start Big Ten play.