Women's basketball lacks urgency, consistency down the stretch
After a huge win this past Sunday over University of Michigan, the Spartans looked to keep the momentum against Nebraska. The Spartans fell short and, with only two games left heading into the Big Ten Tournament, there seems to be a lack of urgency and effort heading into the final stretch of the season.
“This team is a little frustrating sometimes because we’ve been pretty good defensively, but why wasn’t it there tonight? I don’t know,” head coach Suzy Merchant said after the team's loss to Nebraska Wednesday night. “It just seemed disappointing. The urgency wasn’t there compared to the last game.”
MSU sits at 5-9 in the Big Ten with only two games remaining on their schedule and 15-12 on the season. The team drops once again to the bottom four of the conference and is most likely looking at a first-round matchup.
However, the Spartans face a Wisconsin team that's 2-12 in the Big Ten on Feb. 21 and a matchup against Purdue on Feb. 24.
Redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 16 and had an impressive 15 points. However, seniors Lexi Gussert, Branndais Agee and freshman forward Sidney Cooks finished with disappointing performances on the night. The trio finished with a combined five points in 52 total minutes.
“I asked Lexi in the locker room, 'Where was the same enthusiasm and the will and fight that you had against Michigan for tonight, you know, as seniors,'” Merchant said. “It wasn’t there, and you could kind of tell and the same thing with Branndais. There’s no reason for that kid as a sixth-year senior to be 0-for-5. It’s just a lack of focus and concentration and I don’t know what’s going on.”
Merchant said it was definitely a different game against Nebraska then against U-M.
“I don’t care who you’re playing,” Merchant said. “You've only got one more week left in this arena. It's like this home game and then the next and never walk out of here as a Spartan uniform again. It seems like it would be that same consistency and approach, but it hasn’t and that’s part of our problem.”
Tied at 44 with under five minutes to go in the third, the Spartans received a technical foul on a disagreement no call with a referee. Nebraska would go on a 7-0 run to end the third quarter and it seemed as if all momentum was lost for the Spartans.
“You know, we just need to have a tougher mindset,” Colley said. “Coach is fighting for us, and we need to go on the court and fight for her. With that, we just need to be mentally tough and don’t take any possessions off.”
Colley said the team needs to take each game one at a time before focusing on the postseason. Even though Wisconsin and Purdue are not at the top of the Big Ten, the team cannot overlook any opponent.
“It’s frustrating, you know. We needed this win,” junior center Jenna Allen said. “You know we got to come back and refocus and try to get these next two games and try to make a run in the tournament.”
Allen said whenever a coach gets a technical, especially Merchant, it's clear she is fighting for you and the team needs to respond and fight back, which the team didn’t tonight.
"We got to change that, because that's huge," Allen said. "We've just got to be better all around, honestly."
The Spartans play their final home game this season against Wisconsin on at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 In what will be an emotional game for many, this will be senior night as well for the Spartans.