It was an offensive explosion for the MSU women’s basketball team as it trounced Grand Valley State 83-36 in its final exhibition game of the season.
“The kids did a pretty good of going from Saginaw Valley, where I wasn’t impressed with the way we played even though we won significantly, to I thought our energy level was better today,” head coach Suzy Merchant said.
Merchant said that with all the injuries in the past week, she was glad to see a couple key players step up.
“I challenged a few of them,” she said. “One thing I did learn was that (senior guard) Jasmine Thomas has bounced back and been a little bit of a rock for us, and bounced back today from maybe a couple little mistakes that would really get her frustrated. I like how (sophomore center) Jasmine Hines has played the last couple games; she’s been really effective inside.”
Hines led the team in points with 16 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Senior guard Jasmine Thomas, who had 15 points in a team-high 37 minutes, said her strong play has a lot do with her newfound confidence as the starting point guard.
“I think a lot with senior year has a lot to do with it — it’s either now or never,” Thomas said.
She said she’s happy with the offensive execution the team has showed in its first two games and that it has been focusing on that in practice.
“I think Coach Merchant did a good job breaking our team up in practice, and she’ll keep the people that play on one team and we’ll go against each other,” she said.
“Doing that in practice has really helped our chemistry on the floor out there, and we know that offense is what scores the ball, and we definitely have to be able to execute.”
After having offseason shoulder surgery, junior forward Annalise Pickrel was supposed to have her minutes limited to less than 20 per game, but in the 23 minutes she played Sunday, she made the most of them, scoring 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
“I feel good, but not satisfied for our team’s sake,” Pickrel said. “I think in the past, we’ve had that person that was known and was obvious, but this team we have to have, like we did tonight, all five or six of us to be in double figures in order to do well.”
The Spartans open up the regular season at 2 p.m. next Sunday against UT Arlington at Breslin Center, and Merchant said the injuries leave the door open for other players to make themselves known.
“You look at the bench and you see five of your top seven or eight kids sitting there,” she said. “One thing it does is it provides an opportunity for other people, and whether you like it or not, whether it’s the combination you want, we’ve got to figure it out and do the best we can.”