Michigan State women's basketball was handed their second straight loss from St. Francis College in a heartbreaking back and forth battle. The Spartans continue to struggle in road games as their now two losses have come when they are the visiting team.
After coming off a tough loss against Fordham Sunday, The Spartans seemed to fall into the same troubles they had against the Rams. In fact, this game almost seemed like a replay of the Fordham game which was characterized by sloppy basketball from both teams. The Terriers capitalized on these and their overall lack of energy and nerves that came from the young team playing on the road for the first time this season.
They continued their struggles including turnovers, more specifically traveling violations and the inability to move the ball on offense. Instead of trying to lull the defense with multiple passes, they were hoping to play a fast tempo game and fire up shots that just weren't falling.
Senior guard Nia Clouden led the team in points in the first half with 14 points but went 0-3 from the three-point line, an unusual sight from her. However, she looked to make it up on defense with a few steals and some crafty plays to knock the ball out of bounds taking away some key scoring opportunities from the Terriers.
Also contributing were freshman forward Matilda Ekh, graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar and junior forward Taiyier Parks. Ekh was one of the few Spartan players who could find their stride, putting up 14 points. Farquhar continues to dominate in the paint with help from Parks. The two forwards overpowered the Terriers with their tenacity and used their strength to keep plays from dying out.
St. Francis College Head Coach Linda Cimino emphasized the importance of staying in front of the Spartans and keeping them off of the free throw line if her team wanted to win the game. The Terriers did an excellent job of keeping most of the Spartans from shooting free throws, as the only players who went to the line were Clouden and junior guard Alyza Winston, probably the two players you don't want to foul if you're the opposing team. The dynamic duo went a combined 8-9 from behind free throw line.
The Spartans got their groove back in the beginning of the third quarter with the tone set by Clouden who finished with a season high 23 points. They had much better ball movement, but still struggled with travel violations and turnovers, giving the Terriers room to cut into their lead. This gave St. Francis some needed momentum that allowed them to create some movement that revealed holes in the Spartan's defense to bring them right back into the game.
It was déjà vu for the Spartans who were reliving their loss against Fordham in fourth quarter. With 25.4 seconds left the Spartans were only down one point and unable to retake the lead with their last three possessions ultimately being handed their second straight loss from the Terriers.
Michigan State looks to bounce back when they return to their home state to take on Oakland University in yet another road game in Rochester on Friday Nov. 26 at 2 p.m.
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