Davis: Takeaways from MSU’s second-round WNIT victory

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s women’s basketball team (18-13, 7-9 B1G) goes toes to toe against Toledo (18-14, 8-10 MAC) at the Breslin Center in a game that would test MSU’s determination like never before. The Spartans would move on to the next round in the WNIT after defeating the Rockets in a nail-biting battle, 68-66.

At the beginning of the first quarter, MSU had started the game off on fire scoring seven unanswered points. For those first two minutes, MSU increased their lead and started to flex their muscles and bully Toledo on the boards. But as the first quarter dwindled down, Toledo focused their attention inside offensively instead of shooting 3-pointers. MSU seemed to have lost their momentum, which allowed Toledo to end the first quarter only down four points.

If MSU could keep their foot on their opponents’ neck, perhaps they wouldn’t have to deal with so many close calls. Maybe we would be watching MSU compete in games while being a NCAA tournament participant. By the end of the second quarter, Toledo had eventually cut MSU’s lead down to three, capitalizing on points off turnovers with six and second-chance points with four.

MSU forward Sidney Cooks was someone that MSU depended on during the entire game, even though Cooks only played 11 minutes in the first half. She was able to finish the second quarter with 12 points making 4-of-5 attempts, and two rebounds. With Cooks leading all MSU players in points after the first half, Toledo was able to become more aggressive on rebounds and capitalize outscoring MSU in the third quarter. Cooks was being boxed out forcing her to be a non-factor and not being able to get any putback attempts. But Cooks was able to come out hungry in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 15 points off 5-of-9 attempts and four rebounds.

A huge stat to focus on from this game was turnovers, MSU was able to force Toledo to cough of the ball a total of 16 times compared to MSU’s five turnovers. That stat says a lot because MSU might have won that battle by a landslide, but was only able to defeat Toledo by two points. How is it possible to have a large margin win and turnovers but only win by two points? One factor would be because MSU was only able to score 14 points from those turnovers.

This game ended up going down to the wire and with less than 10 seconds left, MSU guard Shay Colley was able to seal the deal with a layup drawing a lot of contact. Tonight MSU showed the world that when losing, they never give up when their back is against the wall. In order to be successful in the tournament, MSU needs to keep the same determined mindset that they had during the fourth quarter.

In their last few games, MSU forwards were able to make their presence be felt by opponents and dominating points in the paint by a large margin. But in today’s game, both Jenna Allen and Taya Reimer were not able to provide a huge impact on points in the paint. With those to being limited in the game, Toledo made it known that MSU can become vulnerable without them. Allen and Reimer had combined for 14 points and eight rebounds against Toledo.