The No. 15 Michigan State women’s basketball team welcomed the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the Breslin Center Wednesday night. It was clear to see the crowd’s focus was seeing how the Spartans would stand up to standout freshman Brianna Turner and the rest of the No. 3 Fighting Irish.
The game was intense from the tip-off. Notre Dame got out to a 10-5 lead, but MSU fought back to gain a 12-10 lead over the Irish. As MSU claimed an early lead, there was a collective sense between Spartan and Irish fans in the crowd that they would be in store for a good game.
MSU’s sensational sophomore duo of Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers were key for the Spartans in the first half. They combined to score 24 of the team’s 30 points in the first half.
MSU’s defensive performance in the first half was even more impressive. They held Turner to zero points in the first half and Notre Dame to a 33 percent field goal percentage.
The Spartans led going into the half 30-29.
Turner did not stay quiet for long, scoring 10 of the Irish’s first 12 points of the second half. The Irish’s top performer of the night though was Jewell Loyd. As the Irish began to play more as a team, things went downward for the Spartans.
MSU ran into foul trouble late in the game with senior captain Becca Mills fouling out with 4:59 left in the game. Also, the Spartans shot five of 16 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Another problem for the Spartans was the lack of a third scoring option outside of Powers and Jankoska. As the game came to its closing minutes, it was clear to see that Powers was committed to giving her all until the clock stopped, but she could not beat the Irish alone.
Notre Dame outlasted the Spartans and won the game with a final score of 71-63. Loyd led the game in scoring with 28 points.
Powers led the Spartans, scoring 27. She showed a high level of poise and control throughout the game, which will be something to watch as she develops over the season. If Powers keeps up her play at this level, she has the potential to be an All-American.
The Spartans will be hosting IUPUI in their next game on Sunday. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.
Jalen Walker is the co-host of Merchantaries for Impact Sports.
Photo: Nubia Buckingham/Impact Sports