Sometimes it takes time.
That had to be the feeling for the MSU women’s basketball team after the slow start they had against Loyola Chicago, before eventually winning 76-47.
The first quarter was a sluggish one, as the Spartans did not score until they were down 8-0 to the Ramblers. Poor play led to a timeout by coach Suzy Merchant two minutes into the game. By this point they already had three turnovers, and absolutely no energy. However, this changed as soon as graduate student Akyah Taylor came into the game. In the first quarter alone she had seven points, finishing with 15 and 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Coach Merchant talked about the impact Taylor made for MSU.
“She was the reason we got ourselves going a little bit,” Merchant said. “She isn’t the best post-player, she isn’t the best face-up four man, she doesn’t have a jump shot like Aerial [Powers], or a three-point shot like Tori [Jankoska], but I’ll tell you what she does have — she does have heart.”
Quarter two was much better for MSU, as they seemed to finally be into the game. They were able to stop the lowly Ramblers on both ends of the ball, especially with leading scorer and rebounder, redshirt junior Taylor Manuel, on the bench with foul trouble.
A nice sign for MSU was the play of redshirt junior Aerial Powers. After it looked like she had suffered an injury last game against Louisville, she came back looking fresh. Though her jump shot was flat to begin the game, she found her rhythm by getting easy points by attacking the basket and converting free throws. By the half she had seven points, and MSU was up 37-25.
The second half was more of the Akyah show, as she continued her impressive play, at one point getting three rebounds on one offensive possession for the Spartans. Her rebounding and defensive effort helped MSU push their lead to double-digits.
Taylor spoke about what she wanted to bring to the table for MSU.
“We just have been talking about setting a tone from the beginning, and we came out like blah at the beginning,” Taylor said. “The moment she put me in I knew I had to put bring energy like I always do, but it had to be amped up more because we were not playing the way we were supposed to be playing, the way we know we can play.”
Helping the Spartans this game was the winning of the rebound battle 51-30. From this, MSU was able to convert on second chances, as evidenced by Taylor’s great play on the boards.
Coming off the bench and providing good play was freshman Hana Vesela. In her first game action in some time she was able to provide six points and two rebounds. Though this does not seem like much, it shows some growth in her, and trust from Coach Merchant.
Powers started to show her true form in the second half as she upped her scoring. Knocking down jump shots and getting to the line are her specialties, and she showcased it. She scored 11 points in the second half and finished with 18.
The win pushes the Spartans to 5-2 on the year, and ends their two-game losing streak.
The Spartans now go on a three-game road trip starting against Davidson on Wednesday. Their next home game is December 21 against Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m.