The MSU women’s basketball team came out and dominated visiting IUPUI from the opening tip Friday night, defeating the Jaguars 65-35 in the first round of the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament at the Breslin Center.
The Spartans got out to a 12-0 lead, as IUPUI committed three
turnovers on their first four possessions, and held the Jaguars
scoreless for the first four minutes of the game.
“I was somewhat pleased with our zone at times,” said head coach Suzy Merchant. “There are some things we need to do better out of it, but I thought our kids responded well.”
After their slow start, IUPUI managed to cut the lead to 14-11 midway through the first half, but an 11-12 performance from the free throw line and back to back three-pointers by sophomore guard Mandy Piechowski and freshman forward Kalisha Keane gave the Spartans a 37-22 halftime lead.
Keane, who had 12 points and four rebounds for the Spartans, opened the second half with a three point basket to up MSU’s lead to 18. The rest of the game belonged to the Spartans, as they ran away from the Jaguars behind Keane and sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan, who led the Spartans with 18 points, five rebounds and seven blocks.
The Spartans only allowed 13 points to the Jaguars on 4-29 shooting in the second half, and held IUPUI center Julia Whitted, who scored ten points in the first half, scoreless.
Freshman forward Cetera Washington added nine points, six assists and three steals in the MSU victory, which marks its ninth consecutive win in season openers. Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas, who played with foul trouble for much of the first half, chipped in five points, five rebounds and four assists.
Afterwards, Merchant was very happy with the effort of the freshmen, who she said need to step up in the absence of junior forward Aisha Jefferson, who was lost for the season with an ACL injury.
“I thought they did a nice job,” Merchant said. “When Aisha went down I basically told them we don’t have freshmen any more, our sophomores aren’t sophomores, our juniors aren’t juniors. Everybody really needs to take ownership of this team, and I think they did a nice job with that tonight.”
The Spartans face Evansville, who defeated Marshall 89-77 Friday
night, in the second round of the preseason WNIT at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Breslin Center.