Spartans melt down vs. LSU, will face Kansas State on Saturday


Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Nathan Stearns, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

On the opening night of the annual Junkanoo Jam tournament from the Bahamas, the Michigan State Spartans collapsed in the second half and were defeated by opening round foe, the LSU Lady Tigers by a final score of 58-56. Despite having a double digit lead in the second half, the Green and White were unable to slam the door on the Tigers. 

The Spartans ended the game shooting only 32% from the floor. The vast majority of this lackluster statistic was caused in the second half, which saw MSU score only 17 points.

The Spartans would go into the locker room with a 39-32 lead after stretching out what had been a see-saw affair throughout the majority of the first half. Things looked good for the Spartans as the third quarter tipped off.

With a 48-34 lead in the third, the Spartans proceeded to go stone cold from the floor.  LSU would end the quarter on an 11-0 run that brought them to just a three point deficit. 

MSU would only score seven points in the final quarter and as such, what looked to be a quality win for the Spartans on a neutral floor was coughed up due to ice cold shooting.

LSU wasn’t particularly impressive from the floor either with a 34% overall shooting percentage on the game. 

Taryn McCutcheon was fouled as time expired, but couldn’t make all of her three free throws to force overtime. She led the Spartans in scoring with 17 points.

With the missed opportunity, MSU falls to 5-1 on the season.

This game also featured the return of Spartan preseason All-Big Ten selection Shay Colley, who scored the first five points of the game for MSU, despite not starting. She would finish with eight points on 2-of-8 shooting in her regular season debut. 

Victoria Gaines would also make her return to the court against LSU. She, like Colley would come off the bench for MSU in her return to game action. Gaines finished with seven points and nine rebounds in her return from an ankle injury that was sustained in practice. 

With the gut-wrenching loss, MSU will play in the consolation bracket matchup against the Kansas State Wildcats, who were edged by the Memphis Tigers 72-68.

The Wildcats are coming off a season that was quite reminiscent of the 2018-19 season for the Green and White. Like MSU, Kansas State finished 21-12 and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament last season. They were bounced in the first round by the Michigan Wolverines.

Kansas State has been inconsistent to start off the 2019-20 season. After starting off 3-0, the Wildcats are in the midst of a two-game skid that includes a rather disappointing loss to UT Arlington.

The Wildcats return leading scorer Peyton Williams and another double digit scorer Rachel Ranke from last season’s tournament team.

Williams was especially impressive for the Wildcats last season, as she averaged 15.5 points and 9.5 boards per game. 

Christina Carr currently leads the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points per game. She scored 11 and notched six boards against Memphis.

Kansas State features four players who are currently averaging over 10 points per game. This balanced scoring attack will need to be shut down by the Spartans if they want to get back on the right side of the win column tomorrow. 

A lack of rebounding also doomed the Spartans against LSU. With Williams in the paint, it will be imperative that Gaines and Kayla Belles limit the number of offensive possessions for KSU.

After a very disappointing loss, the Spartans will get a chance to get back in the win column on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The Green and White cannot afford to hang their heads regarding Friday’s effort. If they do, they will drop another game and head to Florida State on Thursday in the midst of a two game skid.

Contact Nathan Stearns at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @NathanStearns11.