Seven Spartans scored at least five points, and MSU had the largest rotation of the year as the MSU women’s basketball team (5-0) rolled over Robert Morris (0-5), 68-35, on Sunday afternoon.
Senior guard Jasmine Thomas led all scorers with 14 points, and also added eight assists and five steals. Junior forward Annalise Pickrel had 11 points, and senior forward Courtney Schiffauer had 10 points to go along with her team-high nine rebounds.
The Spartan defense also stepped up, holding the Colonials to the lowest shooting percentage of any team MSU has faced this season, at 25.5 percent. They also held Robert Morris’ leading scorer, Artemis Spanou, to just eight points in 38 minutes of play.
“We had a gameplan against (Spanou),” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “That kid can play; she’s got some skill. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Courtney Schiffauer, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Annalise Pickrel, then as a team there’s a lot of things we did. When she got the ball in the short corner, kind of off the post … we just really jumped to her high side and made her come underneath where we could double team her that way.”
Even little-used senior guard Tracy Nogle had a contribution. She didn’t miss a shot, and scored seven points in eight minutes of play, and Merchant said it was nice to see her perform well.
“It was nice to see her go in and be aggressive and bring energy,” Merchant said. “When you get in those situations, you want to continue to perform well, it doesn’t matter who’s on the court.”
Schiffauer said the key to the defensive success MSU is having is the fact that they all want to be on the court stopping the ball.
“I have complete confidence in every player who I’m on the floor with, so I think that’s a good thing,” Schiffauer said. “We work really well together and we know what we’re trying to get done. We all play defense, we all want to play defense, so I think that works kind of in our favor with having all the injuries.”
She said that guarding a player such as Spanou was different, but she was up for the challenge.
“She was a very good player,” Schiffauer said. “On film, she’s got lots of moves and she’s very tricky and spinny, and I took that as a challenge that I wanted to prevent her from touching the ball, not just stopping her, but not letting her get the ball whatsoever. I think it was definitely a team effort as well. As I’m boxing her out (Jasmine Thomas) or (Klarissa Bell) is going to get the rebound.”
Thomas was not only the scoring leader for MSU, but a confident vocal leader as well, and said she couldn’t have had the type of performance she did today by herself.
“It always feels good to come out and perform well, but give credit to my teammates as well, as far as confidence in me and staying engaged and making shots so I can get assists,” Thomas said. “It’s really on them too.”
MSU travels to Raleigh, N.C. to take on North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday, and Merchant said it’s a step up in the difficulty ladder.
“They’re going to get into you quite a bit,” Merchant said. “It’s on the road, and they have some things they can do, and they play extremely hard. It’s a learning experience for us. … It will be our toughest challenge yet.”