MSU women's basketball falls to Northwestern without Merchant
The MSU women’s basketball team traveled to Evanston, Ill. to play Northwestern University for the first time this season on Jan. 17. Before the game, this afternoon the program announced that head coach Suzy Merchant is now on a medical leave for an unknown amount of time. The Spartans had a tough start to the game, and couldn’t pull through as the Wildcats downed MSU, 76-65.
After her collapse on New Year’s Day playing the University of Illinois, Merchant went to the hospital and ended up missing the game against Purdue. She made her return to the sideline being able to coach for three games. However, after the Rutgers game she claimed to have felt similar symptoms to what she felt after Illinois and had to stay in New Jersey to get medical attention.
With Merchant off the bench, the interim head coach is Amaka Agugua, who holds the associate head coach position for MSU. Agugua is in her fourth season with the Spartans and her second season as associate head coach.
In the first quarter, MSU offense was struggling with keeping the ball, as it had five turnovers from five different players. Senior guard Tori Jankoska and redshirt-freshman forward Victoria Gaines were the only scoring Spartans in the first quarter, while they were down to Northwestern by double digits, 20-10.
The Spartans started off the second quarter 5-0 run, which was soon followed by an 8-0 from Northwestern. The game swung after 3-pointers from freshman guard Taryn McCutcheon, sophomore forward Hana Vesela and redshirt-senior Branndais Agee allowed the gap to close.
From only scoring 10 points in the first quarter to 26 points in the second, the Spartans brought the deficit down to one point. The momentum MSU had going into the second half faded as it only scored 12 points to Northwestern’s 18 points in the third.
Northwestern sophomore Amber Jamison was a huge problem for the MSU defense, as she landed 11 points in the third quarter, and finished the night with 22 points, was 5-for-6 on the 3-point line and added six rebounds. Jamison was the closest player to Northwestern’s late Jordan Hankins who passed away Jan 9. as they were roommates their freshmen year.
The Spartans were outrebounded by the Wildcats throughout the night, Northwestern ended the night with 38 rebounds, while MSU only had 33.
Agee performed well throughout the night, being the second-highest scorer behind Jankoska with 12 points. She earned another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds against Northwestern.
The Spartans are now 3-3 for Big Ten conference play this season with their recent loss. The Spartans have time to regroup with their new interim head coach, as they play Purdue on Jan 22 back at the Breslin Center.