ANN ARBOR - Just like against Indiana last Saturday, the Spartans got off to slow start against the University of Michigan, losing 25-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Just like against Indiana, MSU was down big during most of the first half--18 points being the largest margin in the half.
Unlike Indiana, however, Suzy Merchant’s squad couldn’t cut the lead to less than double-digits in the second half, as they fell to the No. 16 ranked team in the nation, 74-48.
The Spartans went into game without their starting guard sophomore Taryn McCutcheon, who suffered a concussion late in the first half against the Hoosiers, giving MSU only eight players available for its Tuesday night matchup.
"We have to start over completely," head coach Suzy Merchant said. "It's tough defensively. Some of those kids haven't logged these minutes, you know, we've been able to share minutes all year."
Redshirt sophomore forward Victoria Gaines made her second start of the season in place of McCutcheon and scored six points on 3-of-8 from the field.
MSU would come out of the second half hitting four of its first six shots, cutting the lead to 10 points with 6:45 left in the third quarter. However, U-M would go on a 18-2 run in the next four minutes to extend its lead to 25 points.
The main force behind that 18-2 run was U-M senior guard Katelynn Flaherty, who scored 12 points in the third quarter. Flaherty ended with 26 points on 9-of-14 from the floor and six assists.
"Going into this game, we knew they would send all their players to the offensive glass, so we knew we could run in transition. They're a bigger team, a slower team compared to us," Flaherty said. "So we took advantage of that."
Freshman forward Sidney Cooks led MSU in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee scored 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting, but obtained eight rebounds. The team shot 31.1 percent from the floor on the evening.
The next matchup between MSU and U-M will be on Feb. 11 in Breslin, but before that, the now 14-7 Spartans will travel to Columbus this Saturday to take on the No. 12 Buckeyes. That game is scheduled for a noon tip off and will be televised on ESPNU.
"This is a hungry team," Cooks said. "We take losses and we really focus on what we've got to do better the next game. Every game we're going to improve."