Fantanarosa: Spartans must key in on Purdue’s ‘three great players’

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Nia Clouden/MSU Athletic Communications

Charlotte Steinberg, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — Today at the Breslin Center, the Michigan State Spartans (11-9, 4-5 Big Ten) will try to look for a rebound win against the Purdue Boilermakers (14-7, 5-4 Big Ten). 

In yesterday’s practice, assistant coach Maria Fantanarosa spoke about Purdue’s triple threat. 

“Three great players, (Dominique) Oden, (Ae’Rianna) Harris and (Karissa) McLaughlin. Harris is very athletic, runs the floor well, great defender, one of the best shot blockers in the league,” Fantanarosa said.

In Purdue’s win over Penn State last Sunday, Harris contributed 21 points and 12 rebounds. 

Fantanarosa went on to talk about the Spartans’ gameplan on offense. 

“We are going to try and use a lot of fakes, and take the players out of position,” Fantanarosa said. “All five players on the floor need to be aware of the Purdue shooters.” 

The other outstanding and producing player for Purdue is starting guard Dominique Oden. 

“She is doing a great job right now in transition, just getting the numbers advantage with transition breaks,” Fantanarosa said. “Just a very high-motor player right now who can score going right and left. The problem we are going to have with her is in the halfcourt, she is a combo player so she has 3-point range as well as middle game and takes to the basket. But when you watch them, she is most confident right now on offense.” 

Oden gave the Boilermakers 28 points while dishing out nine assists.   

The Spartans are coming off a two-game losing streak to Northwestern and Iowa. Both senior Taryn McCutcheon and sophomore Nia Clouden were held scoreless when they played in Chicago against the Wildcats, but showed some life against the Hawkeyes. Clouden gave the Spartans 10 points and McCutcheon added 12 points. 

Playing at the Breslin Center for the Spartans has had a major effect on the season. Coach Suzy Merchant’s squad is 8-1 at home and has beaten opponents like the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

A spark for the Spartans as of late has been freshman Moira Joiner. In the last six games, the Saginaw native has been averaging 12 points a game and has even helped the Spartans in tough matchups. In the blowout loss to Northwestern on Jan. 23, Joiner had 23 points. Even as a freshman, Joiner could break a record. She has made 28 3-pointers and is only eight away from tying All-American Kalisha Keane with 36 3-pointers in the 2007-08 season. 

The game is set for tipoff at 7 p.m. from the Breslin Center. The game can be streamed on BTN+.

Contact Charlotte Steinberg at [email protected]