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Difficult road lies ahead for women's basketball team starting with trip to Ohio State

February 24, 2013
	<p>Senior forward Courtney Schiffauer grabs the rebound before Purdue&#8217;s Drey Mingo on Jan. 27, 2013, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans lost, 67-62. Julia Nagy/The State News</p>

Senior forward Courtney Schiffauer grabs the rebound before Purdue’s Drey Mingo on Jan. 27, 2013, at the Breslin Center. The Spartans lost, 67-62. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

There will be no rest for the weary MSU women’s basketball team as it concludes the 2012-13 regular season.

The Spartans (20-6 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) end with three games in seven days — including two road games — beginning with a trip to Ohio State (14-12, 4-9) at 6:30 p.m. today.

MSU will be tested as the season winds down after primarily using an eight-player rotation because of injuries and suspensions.

“I don’t think people realize how tough that is really going on the road, coming home and then getting a two-day prep for the game two days later,” senior forward Courtney Schiffauer said “It’s just going to take a lot of focus and leadership from the older players to keep everybody in it for the next six or seven days.”

Schiffauer and senior guard Jasmine Thomas are making a point of providing the necessary leadership as the Spartans navigate a taxing home stretch.

In the two previous games, Thomas has noticeably stepped up her level of play on the court, including notching a career-high 21 points. Schiffauer hopes to elevate her game as well, while countering Thomas’ lead-by-example style with her demonstrative leadership.

“I’m kind of the one that talks on the floor and off the floor, gets everybody organized and stuff like that, I kind of take that role,”Schiffauer said.

“I’m just more of the talker, (Thomas is) more of the silent one. I’m in your face, she’s on the side telling you what to do. We balance each other out.”

MSU will look to break its four-game losing streak to the Buckeyes in the schools’ only meeting this season.

Senior guard Tayler Hill leads Ohio State’s guard-heavy attack and will be the centerpiece of the conference’s best defensive unit’s game plan. At 21.2 points per game, Hill is the Big Ten’s co-leading scorer and 11th best in the nation.

“She’s a really good player, so we’ll be keying in on her defensively to get her slowed down a little bit,” Thomas said. “… I think this game we’ll really have to put emphasis on our defense and accountability on the floor.”

The pair of captains, Thomas and Schiffauer, are working to have their team peak as the regular season comes to a close. They believe the Spartans are close — citing improvement each game and fine details that can be ironed out — which is important with Big Ten standings still being juggled.

Considering two of MSU’s final three opponents have losing conference records, there is potential for the Spartans to separate themselves from a logjam in the middle of the pecking order.

“With the Big Ten it’s 50-50 every night,” Thomas said. “Some people win, some people lose, it can be anybody’s night. We’ve just gotta have that mentality where we can only do what we can control and not really worry about the rest.”

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