They took the floor, but failed to show up. The MSU women’s basketball team got routed 81-66 by Marquette on Saturday afternoon at Breslin Center. After battling through four teams to make it to the WNIT championship game, the last 40 minutes of the 200-minute, five-game fight proved to be too much. Failing to bring home their first championship, the Spartans (23-14) ended their season with a thud in the WNIT final game to hand Marquette the title.
“We won 23 games, so it was a positive season,” Merchant said. “I still feel that we had the résumé to go somewhere else, but I thought we did a great job of making the most of it in this postseason, and I think that we’ll get some value from it. ... I think we can take away a lot of positives from this night.”
Only holding a lead twice, both by one point within the first three minutes, the Spartans never really put the Golden Eagles on the defensive. The Spartans spent most of the game playing catch-up, down by 15 to 20 points a majority of the time.
Marquette’s head coach Terri Mitchell gave credit to the team’s defense, which sparked the Golden Eagles’ intensity throughout the game.
After MSU took its second and final lead of the game, Golden Eagles guard Erin Monfre drained a 3-point basket to ignite a 23-2 run, lasting just under eight minutes to take the lead by 20 points.
Monfre came off the bench to contribute 15 points to the Golden Eagles win.
“Erin Monfre lost her mom (to cancer) this year … you have no idea what it means to see her play the way she did,” Mitchell said through tears. “Her mom was looking down from heaven making sure Erin got her feet straight.
“But if you would’ve seen the embrace that her and her dad had out there, I mean, sports is a great thing, but when you can have moments like that and have celebration, it’s a great moment.”
Freshman forward Kalisha Keane scored a career-high 24 points, but it wasn’t near enough to get the Spartans within striking distance. Keane said she doesn’t remember the team ever digging themselves into such a large hole in such an important game.
“Just chip away, that’s all you really can do when a team starts going on a run like that,” freshman forward Kalisha Keane said.
Keane scored six consecutive points to spark a 12-5 run to end the first half.
Heading into the second half down by 12 points, 45-33, the Spartans came out flat, allowing Marquette to put away back-to-back 3-pointers to take an early 14-point lead.
Just under seven minutes left in the game, Marquette had its biggest lead of 22 points.
“I thought you could really see the difference in athleticism out there,” Merchant said. “What happened sometimes with us, that may be my best defensive team, that has the athleticism, isn’t a very good offensive team. When you’re struggling to put the ball in the basket, you make subs … tonight, it didn’t work on either end.”
MSU went on a 13-6 run, too little, too late, to finish out the game.
Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan broke the Big Ten record for the number of blocks in a single season, which she set at 145 blocks last season, after collecting five blocks against Marquette to set the new bar at 150 blocks.