Michigan State women's basketball lost their first game of the season on the road 71-68 against the Fordham Rams in an intense back and forth game full of turnovers and careless errors. The Spartans were unable to shake off the jitters of playing on the road for the first time and did not play to their full potential. With the loss their record drops to 4-1 on the season.
Fordham's junior guard Anna Dewolfe and senior forward Kaitlyn Downey picked apart MSU's struggling defense with ease to lead their team to their third victory of the season. Both Dewolfe and Downey finished the game with 24 points.
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant reflected on what the team needs to work on after the loss.
"I think trusting the offense," Merchant said. "Everybody kind of wanted to do their own thing. We didn't share the ball and move the ball."
She also believes that Fordham came out with more energy that stayed throughout the game.
"We're Michigan State so they had a lot more energy and enthusiasm and we didn't do a very good job of matching that today on the court, Merchant said. I give them a lot of credit."
The fast paced game was plagued by turnovers including one from each team within seconds of each other at the end of the first half in an error riddled sequence. Both teams had a very sloppy start and struggled to hold on to the basketball.
The game was also marked with aggressive play, leaving star players from both teams in foul trouble. With junior guard Alyza Winston out with two fouls in the first half, freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann and freshman forward/guard Matilda Ekh stepped up and provided the team with seven and nine points respectively.
Graduate student forward Tamara Farqhuar also continued to step up defensively, keeping the ball in play with multiple crafty saves and overpowering her opponents in the paint to get rebounds in the first half and stepping up in the second with much needed blocks.
The first four possessions of the second half were marked by four turnovers, each team committing two as the sloppy play continued. The Spartans were stifled by their multiple traveling violations that contributed to their 18 turnovers. Also continuing into the second half was the intense back and forth fight for the lead and quick momentum shifts.
The Rams began to pull ahead in the third quarter after figuring out the code to breaking MSU's new zone defense and the Spartans were unable to respond to their 17-2 run. Senior guard Nia Clouden and Winston remained in foul trouble into the second half forcing the dynamic duo to sit out for part of the third quarter.
They returned in the fourth quarter to give the Spartans a fighting chance to get back in the game, providing the team with leadership on both the offensive and defensive ends. They provided the much needed composure to set the tone for the younger players playing in their first close game and first away game of the season.
Despite having their star players back, MSU couldn't get their shots to fall and the Rams continued their impressive offensive run and provided some key defensive stops. Their strong defense didn't give the Spartans any breaks holding them to mainly heavily guarded three pointers in the fourth quarter.
Clouden was able to hit a three pointer with just over a minute to go to cut Fordham's lead to four, but the team was unable to capitalize on that momentum and had to resort to fouling the Rams to regain possession in the final 30 seconds of the game. Clouden then hit another three pointer to cut the lead to three and continued her hot streak with yet another three pointer immediately after the last one.
However, Clouden's three three-pointers were not enough to complete the comeback and the Rams handed the Spartans their first loss of the season.
The Spartans will remain in the Empire State to take on St. Francis College on Tuesday as they look to bounce back from their disappointing loss before returning to Michigan to take on Oakland University in Rochester.
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