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Offensive off-night results in Spartan women's basketball loss on Sunday

January 20, 2014
	<p>Junior center Madison Williams, left, and senior forward Annalise Pickrel react to the loss against Penn State on Jan. 19, 2014, at Breslin Center. The Spartans lost, 66-54. Julia Nagy/The State News </p>

Junior center Madison Williams, left, and senior forward Annalise Pickrel react to the loss against Penn State on Jan. 19, 2014, at Breslin Center. The Spartans lost, 66-54. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

The women’s basketball team is enjoying its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. Judging solely from Sunday night’s 66-54 home loss against No. 16 Penn State, one would not guess it.

The Spartans (12-6 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) could not build off of a promising 34-27 halftime lead and shot 8-of-34 in the second half, as the Lady Lions outscored them by 19. A team that averaged 77.2 points per game prior to Sunday could not make even an open layup on more than one occasion.

The problem lies solely in the lack of offense. Given the track record for this season, lack of offense shouldn’t be a recurring issue as the season progresses.

“I just felt like we reverted backwards a bit on the offensive end,” Merchant said after the game. “Everybody became kind of a one-on-one guy instead of working the ball around and staying the course.”

MSU also lacked hustle, as the Lady Lions grabbed three offensive rebounds in the closing minutes that hushed the threat of a comeback.

After the game, several players said they believe it was simply an off night. There was no correlation between the timid offense and stout defense, as the Spartans held Penn State to 33.3 percent shooting for the game.

Continuing the trend of locking down premier scorers, MSU limited senior guard and preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas to 16 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

It lines up nicely with the defensive intensity MSU has displayed for the last few weeks, as opponents mustered 35.3 percent field goal shooting against MSU in the eight games previous to Penn State. Other mistakes cost them, however.

“I think we beat ourselves,” said senior forward Annalise Pickrel, who had a team-high 17 points and six rebounds. “Credit to them, but we didn’t capitalize on the things we should have.”

After the game, Pickrel said she was confident the team would not let the loss get to them. With a 7-2 record since Dec. 15, there’s reason to believe Sunday’s loss is not an indicator of forthcoming struggle on the offensive end.

“A month ago or whatever, I think we would have fallen apart,” Pickrel said. “In that category, I think we’ve grown a lot.”

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