Michigan State women’s basketball (11-10, 4-6) fell to Purdue (15-7,6-4) 76-66, Thursday night.
Its late offensive surge in the final quarter was matched by Purdue’s backcourt and the rally was cut down before they could make things close.
Trailing by 13 points going into the fourth quarter, the Spartans had some ground to make up.
Senior guard Taryn McCutcheon got the scoring started in the fourth with a three, just 28 seconds in. Sophomore forward Tory Ozment followed McCutcheon with a three of her own.
With seven minutes left, sophomore guard Moira Joiner drove up-and-under, cutting the lead to single digits.
Just as the Spartans started to show signs of life, Purdue junior guard Karissa McLaughlin drilled a three coming down the court.
With 5:15 remaining, McLaughlin struck again. Her third three-pointer of the quarter extended the Boilermaker lead back to 13 points.
Pulling back within single-digits again, with just over three minutes left, McLaughlin drilled another.
Her seventh three pointer of the night proved to be the silencer. McLaughlin finished 7-for-11 from behind the arc.
While the Spartans started out strong on defense, they had no clear-cut answer for Purdue’s backcourt.
“I think they're very talented kids, I'll give them credit there, but we have people who can guard them,” coach Suzy Merchant said.
“The McLaughlin kid was big on us, ‘cause they set a lot of ball screens and we knew we couldn’t go under ball screens, we were adamant about it … She did exactly what we said that she could do and she did it very well. Give her a lot of credit, but I certainly am very disappointed in how we handled her defensively.”
McLaughlin scored 24, and Oden followed not too far behind with 22 of her own.
The Spartans backcourt was their main source of production as well, but they couldn’t match Oden and McLaughlin’s intensity.
McCutcheon, still playing with a broken finger, scored 16 and sophomore guard Nia Clouden led the team with 17 points. Their effort wasn’t enough to match the Boilermaker’s hot night.
Overall, the Spartans shot 46.2% from the field, and couldn’t pull themselves back from a 15-turnover, 26.7% three-point effort.
Senior forward Nia Hollie lead the Spartans through their struggles, acting as a vocal leader, while dominating the hustle stats.
“She brings a lot of energy, competitiveness, she’s played really hard,” Merchant said.
Hollie finished with five rebounds, three assists and four steals.
After jumping out to a 12-3 lead early in the first period, the Spartans couldn’t find their way back to that caliber of offense. Finishing the first quarter with a three-point lead, they were outscored the next three quarters by 15 points. Their 24-point, four-quarter effort wasn’t enough to bring them back into the game.
“I thought this was a winnable game, but give Purdue credit, they played better than we did,” Merchant said.
“They made plays. Klarissa McLaughlin killed us and we didn’t have a guard that said ‘Let me guard her’, nobody even said that in that huddle, which is kind of shocking.”
If the loss wasn’t enough, the Spartans suffered another injury on the night when Ozment went down late in the game, after taking an elbow to the head. She didn’t return. After the game, Merchant also announced that they lost redshirt junior Mardrekia Cook to an Achilles tear for the season.
Prior to tip-off, the Breslin sat in silence for 24 seconds, honoring the loss of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven other lives on Sunday, after Bryant’s helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California. As it has the rest of the world, the loss weighed heavy on the Spartans.
The loss puts the Spartans two games back from even in Big Ten play. The Spartans will travel back on the road on Feb. 3 for another Big Ten matchup in Maryland.