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Merchant: 'It's not going to get any easier'

December 2, 2013
	<p>Freshman guard Tori Jankoska dribbles the ball Dec. 1, 2013, at Breslin Center. <span class="caps">IPFW</span> defeated <span class="caps">MSU</span>, 81-74. Margaux Forster/The State News</p>

Freshman guard Tori Jankoska dribbles the ball Dec. 1, 2013, at Breslin Center. IPFW defeated MSU, 81-74. Margaux Forster/The State News

Entering the game with a five-game winning streak, the No. 21 MSU women’s basketball team was stunned on its home court Sunday evening losing to IPFW, 81-76.

The Spartans (5-2 overall) failed to show up defensively, and allowed the Mastodons (4-4) free reign on the perimeter. IPFW shot 56.5 percent (13-23) from beyond the 3-point arc.

It was IPFW’s first-ever win against a Big Ten opponent in 13 opportunities.

After the game, head coach Suzy Merchant said she was once again disappointed by the team’s lack of intensity and leadership especially with two tough ACC matchups looming. The Spartans face Florida State at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Virginia Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s not going to get any easier, that’s for sure,” Merchant said. “It seems like we’re slow and somewhat disinterested. We gotta do a better job with that. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and go to work.”

Redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers and senior forward Annalise Pickrel both agreed Sunday was a big wake up call and the Spartans need to perform much better or this might continue to happen.

Like Merchant, Pickrel said the veterans have yet to display the type of leadership needed for younger members of the team, such as Powers, freshman guard Tori Jankoska and redshirt freshman guard Branndais Agee.

“I think it starts with us four,” Pickrel said of the veterans such as herself, senior guard Klarissa Bell, junior guard Kiana Johnson and junior forward Becca Mills. “Just defensively, first and foremost, because we’ve been on the team three years in a row that have been great defensive teams so I think that we just need to start. We’ve had (four) games in a row with really bad starts. It’s just not acceptable and it’s not going to get us anywhere we need to go.”

Despite the loss, Powers finished with a career-high 28 points and 14 rebounds — her first double-double. However, she did commit six turnovers. Pickrel finished with 15 points and five rebounds.

Although she didn’t check into the game, junior center Jasmine Hines dressed for the game. Hines has been unable to play so far this season because of a concussion she sustained prior to the season.

Unlike Hines, junior center Madison Williams did not dress for the game, just two games after making her first appearance in two years. Williams left the Temple game last week because she “tweaked” her knee.

Merchant said the MRI came back clear and there was no damage to any ligaments. She said there was a little swelling and Williams will continue to be monitored.

“Her and Jasmine Hines sure would have made a difference (Sunday),” Merchant said. “It’s just so frustrating not having that power inside game.”

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