Thursday, February 27, 2020

FINAL: Women's hoops squeezes out win vs. Broncos 65-62

December 3, 2017
Head Coach Suzy Merchant and the rest of the team watch from the sidelines as a player shoots the ball during the game against Oakland on Nov. 13, 2017, at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Grizzlies 95-63.
Head Coach Suzy Merchant and the rest of the team watch from the sidelines as a player shoots the ball during the game against Oakland on Nov. 13, 2017, at Breslin Center. The Spartans defeated the Grizzlies 95-63. —
Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

With just 8.3 seconds left in the game — Western Michigan had the chance to tie it. Down by just three points, a 65-62 deficit, overtime was in sight. Or at the very least, possible.

Bronco Jasmyn Walker had the ball at the top of the key, sized up her matchup, guard Taryn McCutcheon, then she drove the ball. A stumble and a turnover later, the buzzer sounded, and MSU women's hoops had the win, a 65-62 victory to halt a two-game losing streak.

The inter-state matchup never was quite pretty, the teams combined to shoot 38.7 percent. 

But the Spartans were still victorious in the seesaw affair. There were a total of 10 lead changes, as the largest lead by either team was MSU up by seven near the end of the game.

The Spartans came into the matchup struggling after a pair of tough losses, one to No. 1 UCONN in the PK80 Invitational, the other a 67-57 loss to Miami (Fla.) on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

But back within the friendly confines of the Breslin Center, they continued arguably their toughest stretch of the season. The Broncos came to play though.

The game started as a 14-12 Western Michigan lead after the first quarter, then a 32-32 deadlocked tie by halftime. Despite outrebounding the Broncos, 23-17, MSU's faulty shooting had them knotted up with their in-state foe.

As MSU opened up a seven-point lead down the stretch with just minutes left in the fourth quarter, head coach Suzy Merchant threw in a wrinkle — a zone that included a full-court press. It forced Bronco turnovers and an adjustment late in the game.

A McCutcheon floater with 24 seconds left gave MSU the cushion it needed with a three-point lead, and the rest will be written down as a victory.

Three Spartans finished in double-figure scoring — guard Branndais Agee, forward Taya Reimer and forward Jenna Allen. Agee also received a commemorative ball for scoring her 1000th point against UCONN earlier this season.

MSU, now 4-2 on the season, travel for another prime matchup against No. 3 Notre Dame on Dec. 6. Last season, in their matchup against the Irish, the Spartans lost 79-61.

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