No. 9 MSU women’s basketball traveled to
Columbia, S.C. to play the No. 8-seeded Arizona State University. The Spartans made it into the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine season. MSU struggled
early against the Sun Devils. After the first half the Spartans were unable
to breakthrough for a comeback, 73-61.
The Spartans came out hot with a 6-3 lead over
the Sun Devils, but with a 3-pointer from freshman guard Reli Richardson the game
was tied. Richardson averaged eight points per game on the season, but in the first
quarter alone she had six points. Arizona State took advantage of
the momentum and went on a 9-0 run bringing them to a six point lead over MSU, 12-6.
Arizona State has one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils pressured senior guard Tori Jankoska from the moment she
stepped on the court. The all-time leading scorer for MSU averages 22.9 point
per game, but going into the second half she had only four points.
Senior forward Kelsey Moos led the Sun Devils with five rebounds
in the first half. Jankoska and redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee led the Spartans with two boards apiece.
ASU outrebounded the Spartans with 16 total rebounds to seven.
MSU mustered only 10 points each
quarter. Going into the second half the Spartans faced a deficit of 22 points, 42-20.
Arizona State forced 13 turnovers for MSU in the first half,
three from both junior forward Kennedy Johnson and Jankoska.
In the third quarter, MSU scored 15 points, but it still wasn't enough to the Sun Devils' 16.
The Spartans were able to raise their intensity and break
through the Sun Devil defense. In the final quarter of the game, MSU outscored Arizona State, 26-15, but still ultimately dropped the game by 12.
MSU struggled all across the board with only
Jankoska scoring in double digits against Arizona State. Agee was the second
leading scorer for the Spartans with nine points, four rebounds and a block.
Arizona State got the free-throw line often, shooting 75 percent on 12 attempts. Senior center Quinn Dornstauder was 4-for-4 at the charity stripe and Moos was 2-for-2.
Dornstauder was the leading scorer of the night for the Sun
Devils. The center scored 16 points, also chipping in four rebounds and an assist. Following Dornstauder, Sabrina Haines scored 15 points, shooting 3-for-4
from the 3-point line. She also had two rebounds and four assists.
Jankoska played her last game as a Spartan and with a rough
first half, she still came around to lead everyone on the court with 26 points on 7-for-12 shooting. She shot 100 percent from the free throw line and 50 percent from the
3-point line. MSU's all-time leading scorer also led the team with eight rebounds and had three assists.
MSU women’s basketball’s NCAA Tournament journey has come to
an end. The Spartans finished their season with an overall record of 21-12 and
a conference record of 9-7. The last time MSU
lost in the first round was 2012 when the Spartans lost to Maryland. The only departing Spartan is Jankoska, as contributors Agee and graduate student forward Taya Reimer return.
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