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Preview: Michigan State women's basketball faces Marshall looking to build off weekend win

November 28, 2021
<p>Freshman forward Lauren Walker (10) blocks a shot attempt from a Bryant player in the second quarter. The Spartans crushed the Bulldogs, 100-60, which led coach Suzy Merchant to her 300th win with Michigan State on Nov. 19, 2021.</p>

Freshman forward Lauren Walker (10) blocks a shot attempt from a Bryant player in the second quarter. The Spartans crushed the Bulldogs, 100-60, which led coach Suzy Merchant to her 300th win with Michigan State on Nov. 19, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

The Michigan State women's basketball team (5-2) is gearing up to face the Marshall Thundering Herd (3-1) for the first time in program history.

Last time for MSU women's basketball

The last seven days were pretty rough for the Spartans.

Their first two losses of the season came back-to-back in New York, 71-68 against the Fordham Rams (4-3) and 66-63 against the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (2-3).

However, they were able to bounce back with an 84-71 victory against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-4) during their Black Friday special. Freshman guard/forward Matilda Ekh and junior forward Taiyier Parks set career-highs in scoring with 17 and 16 points respectively. Senior guard Nia Clouden and graduate forward Alisia Smith set season-highs in scoring with 23 and 13 points respectively. Freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann also set a career-high of 10 assists.

Clouden now has 1,413 career points. She broke 100 points on the season versus Oakland (132) and has passed Eileen Shea (1987-91) for No. 11 on the all-time MSU scoring list. She's now 81 points away from breaking the top 10 and passing Kristen Rasmussen, who scored 1,493 points between 1996 and 2000. Clouden also has 360 career assists and remains 12 away from passing Spartan All-American Lindsey Bowen (1998-2002), who still holds the No. 10 spot.

The Spartans are set to roll into this weekend 5-2 overall. They are slowly figuring out what does and doesn't work in order to succeed.

Big Ten campaigns are on the clock

The start of conference play is only one week away, with doubleheaders between eight of the 14 Big Ten teams scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 5.

Last on the day's docket, the Spartans are scheduled to meet with No. 8 Iowa (4-0) in the Hawkeyes' nest. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

Beforehand, at 2 p.m., No. 21 Ohio State (4-0) will travel to Purdue (5-2) and No. 2 Maryland (6-2) will travel to Rutgers (4-4). At 3 p.m., Wisconsin (1-4) will travel to Northwestern (4-2).

On Monday, Dec. 6, four more of the 14 teams will square off. Penn State (4-1) will first travel to No. 4 Indiana (4-1) at 6 p.m. and then Nebraska (6-0) will travel to Minnesota (5-3) at 8 p.m.

No. 12 Michigan (6-0) and Illinois (3-2) do not open conference play until Thursday, Dec. 9, with the Wolverines at Wisconsin and the Fighting Illini at Michigan State.

The Spartan's upcoming opponent: Who is Marshall?

This will be the second consecutive Big Ten opponent for the Thundering Herd, who collected their first loss of the season against Purdue, 70-60, on Nov. 22. The Herd managed to stay close with the Boilermakers through the first half, only trailing by six at halftime. However, the Boilermakers pulled ahead midway through the third quarter and made 5-of-6 at the line to secure it in the final 52 seconds.

The Spartans and the Herd have a common opponent in Morehead State — both teams collected victories over the Eagles, MSU 93-31 on Nov. 9 and Marshall 65-58 on Nov. 19.

Marshall is averaging 75.3 points per game, shooting 41.9% from the field, 21.9% from beyond the arc and 79.8% from the line.

The Herd has three girls averaging points in double figures. Sophomore guard Savannah Wheeler at 14.8, graduate forward Kennedi Colclough at 14.3 and freshman guard CC Mays at 12 per game. Mays also adds a team leading six rebounds per game.

They also have a defensive threat in senior guard Aaliyah Dunham, who has 18 steals on the season to lead the team.

Thundering Herd sophomore forward Alexis Johnson is a native of Southfield, Michigan. She's the only player on Marshall's end with ties to the Mitten State. The Spartans do not have anyone with ties to West Virginia.

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