Women’s Basketball Fights Through Adversity for Win

The Spartans returned home to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini, for their first game since losing freshman Jasmine Lumpkin.

It was announced just days before the Spartans took on Illinois, that freshman guard/forward Lumpkin was leaving the Spartan program to be closer to family.

The Spartans were also coming off five-straight losses and several players out entering Thursday night game. Despite everything thrown at the Spartan team, they managed a 63-54 win over Illinois.

“It felt good to finish and get to a place where we were in the fight and won the game instead of being in the fight and it could have gone our way,” said head coach Suzy Merchant. “It does feel good. You have to give these kids a lot of credit with what’s been going on.”

Starting for the Spartans were Tori Jankoska, Cara Miller, Aerial Powers, Lexi Gussert and Becca Mills.

The game got off to a slow start, with no scoring until two free-throw shots by Jankoska. This got the game started and put the Spartans in that fighting spirit.

The Spartans’ largest lead of the game was 19 points. Illinois stayed close behind the Spartans for portions of the game but just could not take the lead.

Powers led the team with 33 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Mills with 13 points and Jankoska with 11.

Brittany Carter from the Fighting Illini led her team with 19 points.

The Spartans have showed that they will never stop fighting for their team and they are a team that can get past anything. Merchant says this is the toughest time she has seen since coaching, but she will not give up on her team.

“I don’t think any of us are built like that as people to just give up,” Jankoska said.

The Spartans will continue to fight at home, as they take on Iowa Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Breslin Center.

Jennifer Aldridge is the host of Merchantaries at Impact Sports.

Photo: Jennifer Aldridge/Impact Sports