Who: Cincinnati Bearcats
Where: Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan
When: Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: BTN Plus / Spartan Sports Network
After failing to qualify for the women’s NCAA Tournament, MSU will continue its season back home to face Cincinnati in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
This will be the first time the Spartans will play the Bearcats since 2015, when MSU destroyed Cincinnati, 103-63. The last time the Spartans were in the WNIT was 2008, when they fell to Marquette, 81-66, in the championship game.
“Our mindset is not just because we got into the NIT it doesn’t mean anything, we’re still out here to win,” sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon said. “We’re going in with a mindset that we’re going to win the whole thing, we’re going to play our hardest, play our basketball and hopefully come out on top of this tournament.”
It has been over two weeks since the Spartans played their last game, when they fell to Indiana, 111-109, in the first quadruple overtime game in Big Ten Tournament history. Redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley dropped a career-high 27 points.
“We learned that we fought through adversity, calls that were being made, as well as missed shots,” redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee said. “We all just came together and we knew that we wanted to win that game. It didn’t come out for us, but we knew that we have that will and fight now. We’re just going to build on that and continue the rest of the season.
The Spartans return home for their first matchup, where they have been 9-5 throughout the season. They will host the first two rounds of the tournament in their respective region.
“It’s a great way for the seniors to end,” redshirt sophomore forward Victoria Gaines said. “Especially since we have great fans and you know that will help us with our energy and we’ll feel more familiar because it’s our home court. So we have home court advantage of course, and hopefully going into these games that it shows this will be like a regular season game.”
The Bearcats come into the tournament at 19-12 and 6-5 on the road. The team defeated Tulsa in the first round, but fell to UConn, 75-21, in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
“We just know that they are a tough team and very scrappy,” Agee said. “They run in transition. Make sure that we just play them honest, stop them in transition, play hard and play with more energy.”
MSU 78 Cincinnati 66