COLUMN: 5 takeaways from MSU’s win over Notre Dame


Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Sutton Magee, Women's basketball beat reporter

SOUTH BEND — The Michigan State Spartans defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish tonight by the score of 72-69.

Nia Clouden had the game of her life with 28 points and the Spartans avenged their round of 32 loss last year with a victory tonight on the road at the Joyce Center. 

Here are five takeaways from the Spartans first win of the season against a ranked opponent as they took the No. 15-ranked Fighting Irish.

1. Nia Clouden’s calming presence will take the Spartan’s far 

To open up the Spartans first true test this season, Nia Clouden decided to take over.

She went four-of-five from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. Over the course of the game she made several tough shots, had some nice dribble drives and beautiful assists. Tonight she was the heartbeat of Michigan State.

She finished with 28 points and three rebounds in 38 minutes played. The offense ran through her tonight, and without her scoring, offense would have been at a premium. 

2. The Spartans offensive rebounding prowess makes tough to deal with

Michigan State dominated on the boards vs Notre Dame, especially on the offensive glass. Not only does this allow them to assert their dominance, it gives them many opportunities at second chance points. Many layups and short runners resulted from attacking the boards.

The bigs usually kicked the ball out to the three point line, giving the Spartans many wide open threes. They shot 35 percent from three, 40 percent from the field. 

3. Michigan State continues to use their quickness to their advantage 

The press defense Suzy Merchant has been using early this season continues, causing many Notre Dame turnovers. With a lineup of McCutcheon and Winston, speed and quickness is a glaring positive.

Overpursuing has become an issue, with many Spartan defenders constantly getting beat backdoor. They will need to tighten this up for B1G play coming up, but it didn’t cost them tonight. There’s high risk, high reward with such in your face defense.

4. Questionable refereeing leads to slow paced game

Both fan bases would agree the referees ruined this game. Every single time down the court, the whistle was blown. That’s not an exaggeration either. Basketball is a contact sport, isn’t it? There seemed to be no flow to this game.

There was a combined 45 fouls and 47 free throws. I know the referees want a “clean game” but at what point is it too far? 47 free throws is an unprecedented number. 

5. Suzy Merchant tightens her rotation

After the first couple games of the season, every healthy Spartan player was getting minutes.  Everyone knew that wouldn’t be the case with a top program looming.

Merchant only put players she 100 percent trusted out on the court tonight. Many players got heavy minutes tonight, and the seasoned veterans stayed calm under pressure.

When the game got close down the stretch, many clutch free throws were made by Tory Ozment and Taryn McCutcheon. 

Michigan State took control of this game in the early going and never looked back. They led for all 40 minutes. 

The Spartans next game comes against in-state rival Oakland on Tuesday, November 19th. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m.

Sutton Magee is one of Impact89FMs women’s basketball beat reporters.