Tuesday, January 25, 2022

FINAL: Purdue 69, MSU 59, Boilermakers cloud Spartans vision of victory

January 9, 2022
Taiyier Parks jumps to block a shot from Purdue in Michigan State's victory on Feb. 21, 2021.
Taiyier Parks jumps to block a shot from Purdue in Michigan State's victory on Feb. 21, 2021. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

Five minutes. That's all it takes for the narrative of a game to do a complete 180-degree turnaround.

Michigan State women's basketball entered the fourth quarter confident, having claimed the lead at the half. The first six minutes of the third quarter went scoreless, with both teams failing to find the net.

Eventually, Purdue caught up. It was a layup from Purdue sophomore guard Madison Layden, followed by another from her teammate and junior forward Rickie Woltman that tied the board.

The one to two point deficit the Spartans had been keeping their opponent in became weak to the Boilermakers' feisty offensive press and the Spartans slipped back under the cloud of smoke, falling 69-59 at the final buzzer.

"We talked about it (post game),” Head Coach Suzy Merchant said. “There were some breakdowns defensively and I felt like, today, the perimeter players just couldn't make shots. That's what it comes down to when you look back at it."

"To me, the hardest part was watching the energy and focus from one game to the next (shrink),” she added. “It was very different teams. Against Nebraska, we had high energy and we were excited, ready to go, but today it felt different. We seemed flat, especially in the guard position."

The Spartans struggled shooting on the day at 11% beyond the arc and 37% from the field by the final buzzer.

The Spartans were led by junior center Taiyier Parks with 16 points and six rebounds. Parks has had to step up into a larger role in the post over the last month between COVID-19 plaguing the program and with junior guard Alyza Winston departing to Mississippi State.

"That's the thing about Big Ten – it can be anybody's game," Parks said. "Today it wasn't ours. All we can do is keep moving forward and get in the gym, get more shots up for ourselves."

Graduate guard Tamara Farquhar backed Parks in her efforts this afternoon. She was one rebound away from another double-double on the season, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Farquhar transferred from Purdue after her undergraduate degree was completed. Being on the other side of the ball has its pros and cons.

"I tried to treat the game like any other. I was a little more competitive today, which was kind of natural," Farquhar said. "I did my job. A lot of the points I got were on rebounds, which is my biggest skillset. ... I think I could have done better at the free throw line, that's the first time I've struggled (there) all season so I'll be shooting a lot of those before our next game."

While a Boilermaker, she was a three time Academic All-Big Ten, posted six double-doubles, averaged 6.1 points per game as a 39.2% field shooter and ranks 11th in the school history with 6.5 rebounds per game.

She managed to bounce back after an injury ended her junior season early and she's been a key component to the Spartans gameplay and starting lineup since arriving.

Junior guard Moira Joiner was back on the roster this afternoon after spending a month on concussion protocol. She finished the afternoon with five points and three rebounds.

Merchant said Joiner seemed heavy-legged and tired, which was expected after having been on a very restricted lifestyle.

"Bless her heart. ... That's a long time for a basketball player to be out," Merchant said. "We were trying to play her at two different (positions), but since she's been out for such a long time and we've added some new things, I think that caused her to struggle. But, it'll come back over time. She's going to put in more time with the conditioning piece of it."

The Spartans advance 8-7 overall and 2-2 in conference on the season. They will travel to Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday, Jan. 12 for a matchup against the Buckeyes (11-3). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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