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Michigan State women's basketball's Taryn McCutcheon leading despite injury, struggles

After posting five turnovers and zero points with a broken finger, McCutcheon lays groundwork for her team to bounce back

January 23, 2020
<p>Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon (4) watches a teammate shoot a free throw during the game against Northwestern Jan. 23, 2020 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans fell to the Wildcats, 76-48.</p>

Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon (4) watches a teammate shoot a free throw during the game against Northwestern Jan. 23, 2020 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans fell to the Wildcats, 76-48.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon struggled against Northwestern. In Michigan State women's basketball's near 30-point loss, she turned the ball over five times and went 0-3 from the field. 

The loss stung, especially after stringing together three straight wins. 

“We were all just disappointed honestly with how we played tonight and the energy,” McCutcheon said.

“It was just a low game.”

McCutcheon also has a broken finger on her shooting hand, making it incredibly painful to shoot as well as keeps her out of practice. She has admitted it is affecting her.

“It bothers me, it hurts. I mean, it’s broken," she said. "And it’s on my shooting hand, but it’s just like anything else that anybody goes through."

To McCutcheon, everybody is going through their own injuries. Hers shouldn’t be an exception to not give 100%.

“We all got pains and all this stuff, it’s not an excuse. I passed up shots that I shouldn’t have passed up today and that’s huge," she said. "If I hit some shots when everybody’s down, that gives the crowd energy, that’s big on my part.”

“It’s just one out of 10 fingers, it shouldn’t be affecting me that much,” she said.

Even with the broken finger, she knows there’s more she can do.

“But I gotta fix something, I can’t be out there. ... I don’t even know if I shot today,” she said. “I gotta be better regardless.”

MSU coach Suzy Merchant holds her to the same standards.

“It’s a lot better now. She’s played through some things, but she’s also fought through some things and went four-for-four,” Merchant said.

“She’s made shots with it when it was worse, so I’m not sure what tonight was about. It isn’t worse, because she doesn’t practice. … Maybe now we need to take a look at it, get it X-rayed, see if she can get more shots up so she can get her juice back.”

Merchant knows she will bounce back.

“I think it was just a bad game for her. She’s got to own that and roll up her sleeves and go back to work,” Merchant said.

“She isn’t an excuse-maker, so I know she won’t make one. She’ll want to be better tomorrow. ... If we want to be good, she’s got to be consistent all the time.”

McCutcheon plans to get back into practice, fight the pain and help her team prepare for their next game.

“I think I’m just gonna get back into practice because we can’t play like that. It has been affecting me, it hurts,” McCutcheon said.

"Just the fact that I can’t practice with my teammates, just to get that chemistry down. … There was just a risk of making it worse.”

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McCutcheon's impact on the court is felt in her bad games, but especially in her good. Sophomore Nia Clouden, McCutcheon’s partner in the backcourt, knows how important it is to have her on the court.

“She’s the heart of our team and the brains, too,” Clouden said.

“As the point guard she does a really good job of settling us down and telling us what to do, so it was good to have her out there, and she definitely played a big part in tonight’s win,” Clouden said after the Spartans’ win against Ohio State on Jan. 16.

The senior captain knows that to be a leader, you have to take ownership and help your team back from the lows. She’s ready to get her team back on track for their matchup with No. 19 Iowa on Jan. 26.

“I think in warm-ups we’re gonna have to create our own energy, that’s huge for preparation for games,” McCutcheon said.

“We know how loud it is and how crazy it is to play at Iowa, so we need to just come together as a team and understand that going into that game, it’s going to be tough.”


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