Wednesday, December 8, 2021

No. 21 women's basketball heads to Temple

November 26, 2013
	<p>Head coach Suzy Merchant talks to the team Nov. 20, 2013, at the Breslin Center. <span class="caps">MSU</span> defeated UofD 80-41. Margaux Forster/The State News</p>

Head coach Suzy Merchant talks to the team Nov. 20, 2013, at the Breslin Center. MSU defeated UofD 80-41. Margaux Forster/The State News

After completing an undefeated four-game home stretch Saturday, the No. 21 MSU women’s basketball team now will face Temple on the road at 7 p.m. Tuesday to Philadelphia.

The Spartans (4-1 overall) capped the home stand off with an 81-68 victory against Rice in a game that saw the return of redshirt junior center Madison Williams. It was the first game in two years for Williams, who has torn her anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, three times since being at MSU.

Despite Williams’ return and the double-digit victory for MSU, head coach Suzy Merchant said there still are areas to improve before facing Temple (3-0).

“We can’t start out flat — uninspired is how it kind of looked like going through the motions,” Merchant said after Saturday’s game. “I don’t know what it is about this team that’s gotta kind of get kick-started, but we have to do that.”

The game also saw the Spartans get out-rebounded, 31-29. In the first half, Rice grabbed seven offensive rebounds, something Merchant said was “ridiculous.” She said the team wasn’t very focused defensively in the first half.

Heading into Tuesday’s game against Temple, MSU will square off against the Owls who feature five players scoring in double digits.

Temple also will feature two Michigan natives on its roster — forward Natasha Thames and guard Erica Covile. Thames hails from Port Huron, Mich., and Covile is from Canton, Mich.

Thames is averaging 11 points per game along with a team-high 8.7 rebounds per game, while Covile is pitching 10.3 points per game.

The other three Owls in double digits are guards Tyonna Williams (16.7 points per game), Feyonda Fitzgerald (11.3) and Shi-Heria Shipp (10.3).

For MSU, the Spartans feature the 25th-best scoring offense in the nation, with 84.2 points per game. They also feature five players scoring in double digits, led by freshman guard Tori Jankoska’s 14.4 points per game and senior forward Annalise Pickrel’s 13.4 points. Redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers (12), junior forward Becca Mills (10.6) and senior guard Klarissa Bell (10.8) also average at least 10 points.

Mills has played a key part to the Spartans early this season with the absence of junior center Jasmine Hines, who is battling a concussion, and the inability to play Williams more than a few minutes per game moving forward. In just five games, Mills already has fouled out once and had four fouls in another game.

“Especially when you have teams that have strong inside games and bigger girls, I have to emphasize not fouling and keeping myself out there,” Mills said. “Earlier in the season, against the smaller teams, we got away with it, but as the season progresses, we’re going to have bigger teams, better inside games and it’s going to be really important.”

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