Michigan State women's basketball cannot seem to play consistently against other Big Ten teams like Ohio State and it's starting to cost them big time.
The Spartans went on a 13-2 run in the first quarter, led by junior center Taiyier Parks, graduate guard Tamara Farquhar and freshman forward Matilda Ekh. The trio was firing on all cylinders, combining for 21 points and eight rebounds.
However, their efforts were short lived.
The Buckeyes hit the court in the second quarter and took complete control with a full court offensive press. They had their priorities straight: Defend senior guard Nia Clouden and tire out the rest of the Spartans for an all around collapse.
A shocking 21-4 run for the Buckeyes later in the second quarter and MSU had all but collapsed. They were unable to find the net and only came up with five points the entire 10 minutes of play. They later fell just two possessions short to the red and white, 89-83.
The Buckeyes held a good double digit lead over the Spartans in the third quarter, but Clouden managed to heat up at the right time. Two back-to-back three pointers pushed the green and white within six.
The fourth quarter only added to the suspense as the gap between the two teams continued to shrink. Who wanted the victory more? One possession, two, three, back to one. The scoreboard was fluctuating fast and Merchant was pulling out her entire arsenal, even putting in freshman center Brooklyn Rewers and freshman forward Isaline Alexander for a few minutes.
But it just wasn't enough for the green and white to prevail.
Ekh set a career-high 27 points tonight with two rebounds and four assists, while Clouden backed her up with 21 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Farquhar and Parks added an additional 24 points and both were two rebounds away from double-doubles, each with eight.
Junior forward Moira Joiner is still taking her time to recoup and regroup. She took a nasty fall in the first quarter, but came out unscathed. She contributed 17 minutes on both ends of the ball with four rebounds and one steal at the final buzzer.
The Spartans had the most trouble slowing down junior guard Jacy Sheldon and senior guard Taylor Mikesell. Sheldon finished the game with 33 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Mikesell added an additional 25 points and five rebounds.
Ohio State had one player with a double-double, which was junior forward Rebeka Mikulasikova with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Spartans (8-8, 2-4) will return to East Lansing for a game against Northwestern (10-4, 2-1) next on Sunday, Jan. 16. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET. This is not the previously postponed game – both schools are still in process of finding an available makeup date.
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