On Sunday afternoon, the women’s basketball team had it's first close game of the season as sophomore guard Taryn McCutchen hit a floater with 24 seconds left to seal the deal in a 65-62 win over Western Michigan.
The Spartans have been a dominant team closing out games in the second half this season, as MSU has outscored its opponent 150-88 in the final 10 minutes. However, the Broncos kept it close throughout the game only allowing MSU to go up by as large as seven points.
“We need a consistent leader and go to person to emerge that can do both ends on the floor down the stretch,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “You know I put in one player for offense, but (she) can’t guard her own opponent. Then I put one kid in for defense, but she can't hit a shot, so it’s important that I find a balance.”
Free throw percentages have been a concern for this team as the Spartans had easy chances in the past game to extend the lead or take over had they been made. In the past two games, the Spartans combined have hit a total of 27 free throws on 44 attempts that could have made it a different game.
“You’re either going to win or you’re going to learn and we can learn a lot about our team and people need to learn a lot about themselves, too” Merchant said.
The hard part as the season progresses is to find that one player who the team can trust in big moments to make a play when they need it, according to Merchant.
Jenna Allen rolled her ankle the day before and still finished with a double-double, which is what Merchant is searching for of finding that go to factor.
“Leadership has been something that coach has been challenging me throughout the season, which is something I need to do for this team,” senior Taya Reimer said. “It’s a mental thing and I have to do a better job of preparing for games. I know I need to bring that within myself.”
The team can’t be paralyzed by outcomes and how you are going to play. As a player you need to play with intent and it’s not always going to go your way, but they need to die trying, being aggressive, and some players are shyer in that apartment, according to Merchant.
“In a sluggish type of game, it’s disappointing and as coach there’s no excuses,” Merchant said. “We looked real tired and exhausted, which is one of your biggest problems of battling that fatigue. Consistency is a problem as well because we went from making anything in the beginning to I think everyone shot an airball today.”