Spartans fall to Purdue in Big Ten opener


Sarah Smith

Kamaria McDaniel celebrates after a big basket during Michigan State’s overtime loss to Purdue on December 5, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Marin Klein, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Despite a hard-fought fourth quarter comeback that sent the game to overtime, the Michigan State women’s basketball team fell to the Purdue Boilermakers 76-71 in the first game of the Big Ten season.

“It’s great that we got some urgency, but if you want to win games and be a great player you do that every possession that you’re out there,” said head coach Suzy Merchant. “Why not play like that all 40 minutes instead of just six?”

Sophomore forward Isaline Alexander made the starting five for the first time in her college career. She made an instant impact putting up the Spartans’ first four points of the night. 

Alexander has been seeing more minutes than she did last season and on Monday night proved herself as a starter. She had a total of six points and two steals. One of her steals got to graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel, who led the team with 22 points, in the last seconds to send the game to overtime.

 The Spartans found their footing quickly and were able to pull ahead by the end of the quarter after a slow start. The Boilermakers had serious troubles only shooting 33% from the field and 12.5% from beyond the arc. 

However, the Boilermakers played more aggressively in the second quarter, keeping the Spartans on their toes and were able to take the lead about halfway through the quarter.MSU couldn’t recover after the scoring drought, as Purdue pulled a complete 180, shooting 70% from the field, and 100% from beyond the arc in the second quarter. 

MSU continued on their hot defensive streak with 30 forced turnovers, 14 steals and three blocks.

However, it’s hard to take a lead if you don’t make anything out of 30 turnovers. Despite a strong defensive game, the offense struggled to create opportunities. 

Isaline Alexander shoots the ball during Michigan State’s overtime loss to Purdue on December 5, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM (Sarah Smith )

When they were able to put the Boilermakers in scoring droughts, they could not seem to find the net to close the gap. The Spartan defense was able to draw multiple fouls, but when sent to the line or given possession they could not produce any results. 

“I think we did a good job bothering them and getting the ball back,” said Merchant. “We just didn’t do a very good job of taking advantage of it.”

Purdue managed to hold on to the lead as they shook off the percentages they saw in the opening minutes of the game to open the second half. The Boilermakers could have seen trouble due to fouls, but the Spartan’s struggles at the line made the margin wider. The Spartans shot 20% in the paint and 16% outside in the third quarter and Purdue continued to pull away. 

The Spartans held the Boilermakers to eight points in the last quarter. The offense came out of the shell it had been hiding in the past two quarters and began to close the gap. In the last two minutes, the Spartans had the game tied, but struggled to get possession back until the final seconds. 

In overtime, the Spartan defense held off the Boilermakers but fell back into the trend of struggling offensively. Fouls sent the Boilermakers to the line and the Spartans saw the score margin and a chance for victory slip away from them. 

“We know what needs to be done,” said Elliott. “Now we just need to figure out how to do it as a team.”

The Spartans will head on the road to face Ohio State, on Sunday, Dec. 11. The last time the two teams met was in the second round of the 2022 Big Ten tournament, where the Buckeyes defeated the Spartans 74-58. Tip-off in Columbus is set for 4 p.m.