It was a tale of two halfs at Jenison Field House as the MSU women’s basketball team beat IPFW 64-36 on Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans went 41.4 percent from the floor and 86.7 percent from the free throw line as they led 40-11 at the end of the first half, but the second half was a different story, as MSU was outscored by the Mastodons 25-24.
“I was disappointed in my team today,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “That was the first time all season I felt disappointed, mostly because of the second half. We missed way too many layups and free throws and open shots and you can’t do that if you’re going to win ballgames.”
MSU had 9 turnovers in the second half compared to just 4 in the first, and she said the team needs to get their minds in the right place before the tough Big Ten season starts.
“It’s just frustrating because you’ve got to get better,” Merchant said. “We came out of timeouts and didn’t do a good job matching up, we turned it over. I don’t allow our team to make excuses, so I don’t care if we’re up by two or 29, there’s an expectation for them and we just didn’t meet it.”
Three Spartans scored in double figures led by junior forward Annalise Pickrel with 15 points and senior forward Courtney Schiffauer had her second straight double-double scoring 10 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Merchant said Schiffauer has been the physical leader of this team.
“I’ve been really pleased with Courtney,” she said. “She’s been really playing within herself. Now she’s just playing a physical game, but at the same time she’s doing a good job in all phases for us. She’s come a long way in her four years, and she’s really done a nice job for us.”
Schiffauer told the media she didn’t know she had tallied yet another double-double until after the game. She said she has been working hard in her final year in the program.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive,” Schiffauer said. “I’m trying to focus on rebounding, so layups will just come with that. I’m bringing energy and trying to lead the team.”
Although she said it’s hard as a captain to keep the team motivated when they’re up by so many points, Schiffauer said that they still have to finish the game strong, and it’s their own fault they didn’t.
“We did do better in the first half, but it’s on us to keep our energy up and keep the flow going, so that’s just something we have to get better at,” she said. “We just have to learn to not look at the scoreboard and not care what the score says and keep playing like it’s tied the whole time.”
This was the first women’s basketball game played by MSU in Jenison since March 11, 1989, and sophomore forward Becca Mills said it was an experience she will never forget.
“It was awesome they took the time to set up Jenison and have us play in there for all the people that played before us to show them some love back,” Mills said.
This also marked the return of sophomore guard Kiana Johnson and redshirt freshman forward Akyah Taylor. Mills said although the team didn’t play well in the second half there were still positives to come out of this game, and they were a big part of it.
“We came out strong, that’s been a trend this year,” she said. “Akyah and Kiana came in and got into the mix really well and it’s like they were there the whole time. It wasn’t a huge adjustment.”
With a trip to Las Vegas to take on Oregon State and Texas Tech scheduled for next weekend, Merchant said there is still much to be done before the Spartans head west.
“There’s a lot of things that we need to do better,” Merchant said. “There are some things defensively that we’re good at, but we let slip sometimes.”
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