Spartans Lose Hard-Fought Battle to No. 5 Terrapins

The Spartans returned to the Breslin for the Play4Kay pink out Monday night against No. 5 Maryland, following their win on the road against Penn State.

Aerial Powers was honored at the beginning of the game for being the youngest Spartan women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points.

Last time around, at Maryland, the Spartans lost a grueling game. They were determined to not let that happen again. Coming into this game Maryland only had two losses, one of them being against No. 1 Notre Dame, but were impressively undefeated in the Big Ten.

Coming into the game, the women were looking for their first major Big Ten upset of the season, and just nearly accomplished it with Maryland winning 75-69.

“The credit goes to Michigan State. I thought that they were the more aggressive team. They played hard and were scrappy,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “We had no answer for Powers. She’s just a phenomenal player and we were fortunate to be able to get out of here with a win”

The top scorers for Maryland were Brionna Jones with 17, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Laurin Mincy both with 15 points and Lexie Brown with 14.

The Spartans had four of their players ending the game in the double digits. Powers had 18 points, Tori Jankoska and Becca Mills had 14 and Cara Miller finished with 10.

Two of the biggest struggles for the Spartan women were free throws and rebounds. They ended the game shooting 39 percent from the free-throw line, only making 7-18 free-throws and only had 32 rebounds compared to Maryland’s 46.

“Stating the obvious, the free-throw line killed us. We make some of those and it’s probably a different story,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “You can’t shoot 39 percent from the free-throw line and leave eleven points against the fifth-ranked team in the country. You’ve got to step up there and knock them down.”

MSU head coach Suzy Merchant unhappy about call made by the refs.
MSU head coach Suzy Merchant unhappy about call made by the refs.

Maryland did not take a large lead until late in the second period, but hope was not lost for the Spartans. Mills nailed a three-pointer to bring the Spartans within five points of Maryland with 18 seconds left in the game.

Everything was looking up after Maryland player, Tierney Pfirman, missed both of her free throws, but with the lack of boxing out by MSU, Mincy was able to get an offensive rebound to end Michigan State’s chances of a big upset.

“I’m proud of their fight. I hate losing, so it’s hard for me to feel good about it because I felt like we gave it away at the free-throw line,” Merchant said. “You know I am proud because we were mentally and physically tougher and our game plan was pretty good, and the fact that they executed it is a credit to them. I was proud of our fight for sure. Just not proud of the outcome.”

The Spartans will host No. 19 Rutgers on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. for their final home game of the season.

Sophia Busk is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: Scott Wasserman/Impact Sports