While the baskets were sinking on Thursday’s victory against Illinois, it wasn’t that simple against Iowa.
Trailing 49-48 with a little under 12 seconds in the clock, the women’s basketball team had to be quick and smart, but Iowa’s attitude showed through.
MSU fought hard but couldn’t get two wins in a row, losing 52-50 to No. 22/21 Iowa, after a long 12 seconds of fouls, free throws and challenges.
“I’m the most frustrated I’ve ever been for a group of people … I’m frustrated for them. I feel for them,” head coach Suzy Merchant said at the postgame press conference.
In the team’s last six losses, five were nine points or under.
“It’s just like: ‘another loss that we could’ve won,’” redshirt sophomore Aerial Powers said.
Once more, Powers lead the game with a total of 16 points, a little under five points of her 21.3 points per game average.
“A lot of the shots that I usually make weren’t following,” Powers said. “ We know we’re right there, we just can’t get over the hump it seems.”
Iowa seniors Samantha Logic and Melissa Dixon followed close by with 13 points. The Spartans started the game in the lead, but about halfway through the first half, the Hawkeyes turned it around and MSU could not catch up.
“We’re getting better, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if we’re not getting the win … No one cares if we lose by one or 20,” senior Becca Mills said.
The loss, although frustrating, is a demonstration of how good the Spartans can be, even with almost half of their team injured and unable to play.
Against a team that averages about 80 points per game, MSU kept them at 50 points.
“Defensively, we were as good as we can be,” Merchant said. “That’s one of the best scoring offenses in the country, and we kept them basically under 50 points.”
Besides the high scoring offense, Dixon leads the Big Ten in three-point field goal percentage, but the Spartans held her down to scoring one three-pointer in five attempts.
“They’re doing everything they can to be where they need to be, but it’s just not coming for them,” Merchant said.
MSU topped Iowa 88-72 in the 2013-14 regular season, but with the loss this season, the Spartans’ overall record is 9-8 (1-6 in the Big Ten).
“We’re playing, I feel like, to get a (winning) streak going,” Powers said.
The team will travel to College Park, Md. to play Maryland Thursday at 7 p.m.
“One thing we try to do is keep looking forward, keep grinding and stay in the fight,” Merchant said.
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