Spartans Fight Hard but Fall Short to Michigan

The Spartans returned back home for National Girls and Women in Sports Day, after their loss on the road against Ohio State, 76-62. The starting lineup for the Spartans was Tori Jankoska, Aerial Powers, Lexi Gussert, Becca Mills and Anna Morrissey.

The women started the night out strong with a three-pointer from Gussert. It did not stop there.

Mills hit a shot on their second trip down the court and then nailed a three-pointer on their third trip down.

The lead shifted back and forth throughout the first ten minutes of the game. Ten minutes into the game, it seemed like Michigan was never going to miss a shot.

Despite Michigan State being down 37-21 at the end of the half, they still had fight in them as Cara Miller nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

As the Spartans entered the second half, it was not looking good. With 17 minutes left in the second half, Michigan extended the lead by 22 points.

With 12 minutes left in the second half, a spark ignited for the Spartans and that spark was Aerial Powers.

“We knew that they were going to come after Tori and Aerial,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I thought in the first half Aerial was really trying to give the ball up. We talked about being more of a playmaker, but then in the second half it was like if they are not making them somebody has got to take them.”

“I tried to get the other girls involved. They had great shots, but we just couldn’t hit them,” Powers said. “I told my team at halftime I was going to be way more aggressive because we haven’t been hitting the shots. I was going to be way more aggressive, but still look for them.”

Powers ended the first half only scoring six points, but ended the game as the team’s high scorer with 25 points and 15 rebounds. She scored 19 of her points in the second half.

The Spartans had a chance to come within three, but could not knock down their free throws. They fought to the very end, but could not clinch the win. They fell to Michigan 72-59.

“We knew Michigan State was going to make a run at us in the second half. A really good team led by a great, great, great player,” Michigan’s head coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “We thought we did a great job in the first half of really shutting both of their key players down, but we knew it was only a matter of time before they got some good looks.”

The leading scorers for Michigan were Katelynn Flaherty with 19 points and Cyesha Goree with 17.

“I did like our fight in the second half. We were a team then. We have some limitations from a standpoint of what can we do,” Merchant said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting and keep telling those kids that you can do it and giving them confidence. It is what it is.”

The women head back into action on the road against Minnesota this Sunday, Feb. 8.

Sophia Busk is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: Sophia Busk/Impact Sports