Michigan State women's basketball dropped their first Big Ten game of the season against the Iowa Hawkeyes. This is there second straight loss, dropping to 6-4 on the season and falling to 1-3 in road games.
MSU continued their rebounding struggles early on, giving the Hawkeyes many second chance points, almost a replay of their loss to Notre Dame. Iowa, like the Fighting Irish, was also able to cut to the basket and use their size to create offensive plays.
Dominating the paint was Iowa’s senior center Monika Czinano who overpowered any Spartan who challenged her. She finished the game with 19 points, putting her with the top three scorers of the night with star sophomore guard Caitlin Clark who was by far the most difficult player to guard for the Spartans due to her ability to score from anywhere on the court. She finished with 24 points. The dynamic duo helped give Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder her 800th career victory with the win.
To keep themselves in the game, MSU relied on the fast break and driving into the paint to maneuver their way around their much bigger opponents. Leading this charge was freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann who was able to drive and score despite being one of the smaller players on the court, standing at 5'7". Her usual burst of energy off the bench gave the Spartans 12 points.
Senior guard Nia Clouden began to find her stride in the second quarter, matching Clark’s ability to score from anywhere on the court giving the test of the team such much needed momentum. After she had some nice drives to the basket and knocked down a clutch three pointer, graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar had a crafty play under the basket to score and junior guard Alyza Winston hit a long three putting the Spartans back in business and cutting the deficit to two at the half.
The Hawkeyes quickly regrouped in the third quarter, growing their lead to nine before the first timeout of the second half. Iowa’s playmakers led by Clark were able to feed the ball to their post players to overpower the Spartans and add to their lead. It wasn’t just their post players making some plays, their guards also had no trouble driving to the basket and taking the three with no answer in sight from MSU.
"We had open looks," Head Coach Suzy Merchant said. "We missed layups. We missed free throws. We missed wide open threes and if you're gonna beat them you gotta match them with their scoring. I think we're capable of doing that but people gotta make the shots."
Clouden continued her usual exceptional play in the second half but without the help of her teammates, the Spartans were unable to get themselves back in contention. The loss highlights the importance of consistency that MSU has been lacking this season. Other than Clouden, there hasn’t been a player that has consistently performed up to their full potential.
"I think they (Iowa) have really good leadership and I think ours was really lacking today," Merchant said.
The Spartans will need to fix their consistency problems and focus on rebounding to overcome their size deficit problem as they look to their next Big Ten opponent in Illinois. They will play Illini at home on Thursday as they look to break their current losing streak.
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