Michigan State women's basketball dropped their last game of the season 61-55 to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Senior Night, ending their season with three straight losses.
It was only fitting that during her final game at the Breslin, senior guard Nia Clouden would score first. She drove to the basket for a quick layup to put the Spartans up two to begin the game.
She and graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar came out ready to play for the last time in the green and white. Although OSU led for the majority of the first half, MSU absolutely dominated them under the basket largely thanks to Farquhar. The Spartans outrebounded the Buckeyes 28-14 in the first half with nine of them credited to Farquhar.
Despite Clouden getting the scoring going for MSU, the Buckeyes quickly took control, sending the Spartans into a frenzy with their full-court press, an asset they used during their last matchup in Columbus. MSU was able to break the press for the better half of the first quarter, but lost control towards the end, giving up six turnovers that lead to the Buckeyes seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
They continued to lead for the most of the second quarter but had their momentum stolen half way through the second quarter by freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann who went 2-2 at the free-throw line before almost immediately hitting a three pointer causing a five-point swing for the Spartans.
Also, a welcoming sign in the second quarter was the return of freshman forward Isaline Alexander, who had not played since the Spartans game against Wisconsin on Feb. 16.
Although the swing left the Spartans only down by three going into the locker room at halftime, it was clear they had their work cut out for them in the second half.
The Buckeyes were able to keep a steady lead over the Spartans first the first five minutes of the second half, but the Spartans remained resilient and fought their way back.
The team seemed frustrated when Hagemann received her fourth foul, but a strong drive to the basket followed by a bucket by freshman forward Matilda Ekh kept the Spartans within two with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter.
Junior center Taiyier Parks then brought the crowd to its feet with four straight points, tying the game at 37 with just under two minutes to play in the third, giving the Spartans their momentum back. Farquhar was unstoppable under the basket, creating a space for herself and scoring off the assist from Ekh and not long after Clouden went 2-2 from the free throw line to give the Spartans their first lead of the second half.
Ekh continued her recent shooting struggles throughout the game, going 0-9 from behind the arc. Her team as a whole struggled as well from behind the three-point line, going 2-15 compared to OSU who went 5-18.
Clouden and Farquhar decided to go out of the Breslin with a bang in the final quarter. Farquhar outfought the Buckeyes under the basket to put up a clutch layup to keep the Spartans in position finishing with a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 22 rebounds. Clouden also completed a perfect 10-10 performance at the free-throw line finishing with 19 points in her final game at the Breslin.
The final minutes of the game were a back and forth battle between the two teams, with Parks getting a clutch rebound and putback to give herself a double-double as well and put her team within two points with under one minute left to play. She finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Despite the incredible performance from these three, the Buckeyes capitalized on some last-second trips to the free-throw line to give themselves a five-point lead with 30 seconds left in the game and the Spartans were unable to recover, leading to their third straight loss.
The Spartans will now look to prepare for the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis next week in a last-ditch effort to make the NCAA Tournament. They will finish the regular season 14-14 overall and 8-9 in conference play.
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