Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Offensive inconsistency and fatigue result of six-game losing streak

February 9, 2018
Redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee (10) gets ready to shoot during the women's basketball game against Maryland on Feb. 8, 2018 at The Breslin Center. The Terrapins defeated the Spartans, 76-68. (Annie Barker | State News)
Redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee (10) gets ready to shoot during the women's basketball game against Maryland on Feb. 8, 2018 at The Breslin Center. The Terrapins defeated the Spartans, 76-68. (Annie Barker | State News) —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Heading into Thursday’s matchup against No. 10 Maryland, women's basketball looked to snap its five-game losing streak. 

Instead, the team extended it to six.

Offensive inconsistency seems to be playing a huge role, as during this losing streak, MSU has failed to shoot above 40 percent from the floor along with getting to the free-throw line and having less than 10 free throws. 

Prior to the loss of redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley to an apparent knee injury, the team shot well over for 40 percent and made it to the line more than 10 times.

Fatigue has also played a role for other Spartans as of late. Senior forward Lexi Gussert is playing well since her return, but still is trying to get through a fractured arm. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon has only played about 40 minutes in the past four games. 

“We used to press all the time, now we’re limited to that,” head coach Suzy Merchant said. “We failed to mix up with zone, because it’s not really ideal with some of the personnel we have without other kids.”

Colley’s injury was supposed to only last a couple of weeks, but it has now pushed to almost a month. McCutcheon was lost for a game and a half, Gussert has been out for most of the season and senior guard Branndais Agee had shots in her ankle with calcification, Merchant said.

Merchant said Colley plays an important factor in the Spartan offense as she attributes 15 to 20 points per game. Not just by scoring, but also finding the open person and setting up other players. 

“That kid healthy was our best player,” Merchant said. “It’s just been difficult to try to manufacture those points. I still think we get fouled a little bit more in the post, and I’m not sure why we’re not getting those calls down low.” 

There is no time table for Colley, as she has yet to practice since her injury, and there is no word from the doctor as of late, Merchant said.

“This whole scheduling—this is a little bit crazy,” Merchant said. “You’re playing 9 o’clock games in the middle of the week. Your getting home at 4 a.m. and then you gotta turn around and you have another game coming up, you’re playing every night of the week. We had three games on the road and I don’t think I’ve ever played three games on the road since I’ve been in the league. 

"It is about when you play people. It’s about who has the freshest, mental and physical feel to themselves.” 

The team needs to find themselves and their identity, but it is getting to the point late in the season where the team needs to find that offensive consistency, redshirt sophomore forward Victoria Gaines said.

“(Shay) was our go-to player.” Gaines said. “She’s the one that gave us energy, but we can’t depend on her because if she subs out of the game, who are we going to look for? We need more people to step up and get us going.”

Defense has also been an issue, as there are times where the opposing team has gone on numerous runs, and when the team is not making shots it doesn’t help much, senior forward Taya Reimer said.

“It’s more defensive, it’s not really offensive laps,” Reimer said. “There’s shots we could be finishing, shots we could be making, but that’s not it. Defense is what wins games.” 

The Spartans continue their four-game homestand against rival University of Michigan this Sunday at noon. MSU has already lost to U-M earlier this season, falling to the No. 21 Wolverines 74-48 on Jan. 23 in Ann Arbor.

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