Spartans look to close regular season against Penn State


Taryn McCutcheon (Photo: Ian Gilmour / WDBM)

Nathan Stearns, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – After a disappointing performance against Michigan at home that saw the Spartans lose 65-57, MSU was able to rebound on the road with a wire-to-wire 72-58 win over Illinois. Led by Shay Colley’s 14 points, the Spartans improved to 15-13 and 8-9 in Big Ten action. The Green and White will be looking to finish off the regular season strong at home, as they welcome in the lowly Penn State Nittany Lions to town on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. 

Sunday will also be senior night for Taryn McCutcheon, Shay Colley and Nia Hollie. The trio will be honored before the game for their phenomenal accomplishments within the MSU basketball program.

Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Penn State has only mustered one conference win in the 2019-20 conference season. That win was over Michigan State on Jan. 9 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Behind two 24-point scoring outbursts from Siyah Frazier and Kamaria McDanel, the Nittany Lions defeated the Spartans 86-73. After the discouraging loss to Penn State, the Spartans would rattle off three straight wins against Wisconsin, Ohio State and Rutgers. The Nittany Lions, however, have not won a game since the victory over the Spartans. 

The Nittany Lions are currently in the conference basement with a paltry 1-16 record in conference. Overall on the season, Penn State sports an ugly 7-21 mark that is due in large part to the current 12-game losing streak that it is in the midst of. 

A lone bright spot for the Nittany Lions has been Inkster native McDaniel. On the season, the junior guard has amassed averages of 19.5 points and four rebounds per game. Frazier has often served as McDaniel’s partner in crime with a healthy 13 points per game average. No one else on the team averages double figures.

Nia Clouden/MSU Athletic Communications

Penn State is led by first-year coach Carolyn Kieger. After serving as the head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles for five seasons, Kieger was hired away to try and resurrect a program that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since the 2013-14 season. Kieger, who went 9-22 in her first season at Marquette, was able to lead the Golden Eagles to three consecutive NCAA tournament berths before her departure.  

If Michigan State is able to hold serve at home against Penn State, it will finish the 2019-20 regular season with a 16-13 overall record and a 9-9 record in the Big Ten. The Spartans would then likely either be the eight or nine seed for the Big Ten tournament, which would see them possibly square off against Purdue on Thursday March 5 at noon.

Nia Clouden (Photo: Ian Gilmour/WDBM)

With Colley back in the fold, the Spartans have suddenly become a team that no one will want to see when the calendar turns to March. Despite an NCAA tournament berth being out of the equation, the Spartans have the opportunity over the next couple of games to solidify its chances to host against another team in the WNIT. The sky’s the limit for this squad when healthy, and it has a chance to be an upper-tiered seed within the WNIT.

Follow Nathan Stearns on Twitter @NathanStearns11.