MSU takes down Hartford in 79-34 blowout


Credit: Joe Dandron / WDBM

Charlotte Steinberg, Women's basketball beat reporter

EAST LANSING — As soon as the whistle was blown, the Spartans came out of the gate, not afraid to shoot the ball. East Lansing native Taryn McCutcheon was the star of the night with a team-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from downtown. 

McCutcheon led her team in points and to a victory over the Hartford Hawks on Sunday in a 79-34 win.

After the game McCutcheon was asked about her confidence, shooting the ball and credited her teammates. 

“Yeah that was nice,” said McCutcheon. “I was struggling with the first few games obviously, but after my teammates found me and got some open shots for me that was nice because it just builds your confidence in every other aspect of the game if you are hitting shots and it is easier to be confident in the whole game” 

Thank you to my teammates, they would tell me keep shooting, keep shooting they are going to fall and finally they did. That’s what I do I am shooter so when one of my biggest strengths is not playing out how I want it to be, I mean my teammates are literally the only thing that keeps my confidence up because the one thing I need to do is hit shots.”

“Shay (Colley) and ‘Dreke (Mardrekia Cook) especially do like so much for me on the sideline just constantly in my ear like, ‘you are going to hit shots, take the next one you are fine.’” 

Coming from the bench, Julia Ayrault provided a spark with 14 points too. The freshmen attacked the basket and earned her way to the free-throw line. 

One of the most energizing plays of the game was when Ayrault had a monster block on a Jada Lucas drive to the basket in the second quarter.   

Credit: Joe Dandron / WDBM

Post-game Merchant was very pleased with Ayrault’s play, “She is just a really really talented tough matchup; we play her at the three and four, so she plays multiple positions for us.” 

Defense proved to be a factor too. 

Hartford seemed to be in trouble in the first half, with the Hawks often finding themselves with less than ten seconds to create a shot.

At the end of the game, the Hawks finished with 29 turnovers. The Spartans scored 30 points off those turnovers.

The frontcourt was a big factor, too, players such as Kayla Belles and Cook, who was on the floor for 12 minutes, had four points. Belles – stepping in for the injured Victoria Gaines – finished with a double-double of eleven points and eleven rebounds. 

“Kayla is really coming along,” said Merchant.

“She had to sit behind some really talented kids last year, and she was injured, and sort of late to the party and never was able to get 100% into the rotation, and now we are relying on her.”

An improvement from the last home game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to look at is free throw percentage. The Spartans shot 58.8% from the free-throw line. 

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Spartans seemed to pick up the pace and take a commanding lead. 

With 5:06 left the third, the Hartford Hawks had committed 18 turnovers. 

Credit: Joe Dandron

WIth not scoring many in the first half Nia Clouden took it straight to the Hartford Hawks. While handing most of the point guard duties, Clouden drove to the basket a ton and finished with 12 points.

Coach Merchant’s full-court press was lethal with McCutcheon and Winston denying the ball. 

With Winston’s speed and McCutcheon’s knowledge and ball awareness, the Spartans could be a problem in the future.

Overall the Spartans followed up their game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies with another strong performance. 


The Spartans improve to 5-0 with their next game against the LSU Tigers at 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 29.

Charlotte Steinberg is a freshmen journalism student and native of New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsTalkByCS