Undefeated no more.
With Sunday’s 66-54 loss to then-No. 16 Penn State (now No. 13 in the latest AP poll),the women’s basketball team (12-6 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) lost its status as the lone leader in the conference, falling into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten standings.
The Spartans and Lady Lions (13-4, 4-1) are joined by Michigan (13-5, 4-1) at the top of the conference. The Wolverines suffered their only conference loss to MSU on Jan. 12, falling 79-72 at Crisler Center.
Following Sunday’s loss, senior guard Klarissa Bell, who had 12 points and tied her season-high with nine rebounds, addressed maintaining focus as the season grinds on. With 11 games remaining on the conference schedule, there’s no telling how the final standings will look when it’s all said and done.
“February is the grind month,” Bell said. “That’s when school’s kicking in hard, that’s when basketball, you’ve been playing forever. We’ve really gotta stick together and grind it out through February.”
Defensively, the women’s basketball team performed well Sunday. Senior forward Annalise Pickrel said the Spartans are developing an identity now that the roster is healthy.
“In practice, we know that the practices need to be completely intense and focused,” Pickrel said. “At the beginning of the season, everyone was beginning to find their groove to get into.”
Still outside Top-25
With 36 points, the women’s basketball team placed two spots outside of the top 25 in the latest Associated Press poll. It’s an improvement from the previous week, where MSU placed four spots outside the top 25 with 17 votes.
It’s the second straight week the Spartans have received votes after being shut out of the polls from week seven to week 10. Before that, MSU was as high as No. 19 in week two before injuries led to losses and a drop in the rankings.