Michigan State women's basketball fell to No. 18 Oregon with a score of 86-78 in the third place game of the Phil Knight Invitational Sunday afternoon. At one point, the Spartans were down 17, but clawed their way back to tie the game later on, yet they could not pull out the win.
The Spartans got off to a slow start offensively as they could only muster four points in the first four minutes. Junior guard Gabby Elliott was accountable for all the points as she had two free throws and a layup in that span.
After already having a size disadvantage, senior forward Taiyier Parks recorded two fouls within three minutes. That allowed Oregon sophomore center Phillipina Kyei to take advantage of her 6-foot-8-inch frame as she put up five points and six rebounds on 2-4 shooting midway through the first quarter. Junior guard Te-Hina Paopao also started off hot for the Ducks, scoring nine points on 4-4 shooting in that same span.
MSU continued its shooting struggles from deep in quarter one as it did not hit on any of its seven attempts. The defense was also not up to par as the Ducks shot the ball at a 76.9% rate in the period.
The Spartans went into the second down by 15, but the energy would soon pick up to help deflate the deficit.
Graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel was making things happen for MSU all quarter and game long as she started her quality 10 minute stretch off with a pull up jumper. That gave the Spartans some juice as senior guard Moira Joiner then rejected Kyei at the rim, which led to an easy layup on the opposite end for sophomore forward Isaline Alexander.
That stretch gave MSU momentum as later in the quarter they were able to rattle off 10 straight points off threes from McDaniel and sophomore forward Matilda Ekh. McDaniel also had made a jumper and Ekh added in a layup over the stretch. McDaniel finished the first 20 minutes leading all scorers with 16 points.
Oregon's offense answered the MSU run though as senior guard Endyia Rogers put up five straight points to answer the Spartans. Meanwhile down low, Kyei continued her strong performance into halftime as she went into the break with nine points and 11 boards.
Despite Oregon shooting over 60% from the field throughout the half, MSU won the turnover battle 10-6 after being even with them earlier in the game before both teams hit the locker room. After struggling in the first 10 minutes, Michigan State's three point shooting also picked up in the final 10 minutes of the half as they went 4-13 in that stretch.
After being down 17 at one point, MSU went into the half down by just eight and would keep up their strong effort deep into the match.
Alexander took over in the early minutes, starting the second half in place of Parks. She recorded seven points and a blocked shot in that time. Joiner also had a solid start to the half as she made a bucket and an assist to help keep the green and white in the game.
Scoring went back and forth in the third quarter as freshman forward Grace VanSlooten and McDaniel traded buckets throughout. VanSlooten finished the afteroon with 12 points on 5-8 shooting and seven rebounds.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter MSU continued to apply pressure as McDaniel put up five points while Ekh added four points and a steal in the minutes. MSU continued to lead the turnover battle, as the Spartans were up 13-8. They finished the game with a 17-10 advantage in that statistic.
At that point the Spartans had evened up the score after being down double digits earlier in the bout. That seemed to be the final punch MSU could muster though as Oregon kept burying its three point attempts. Rogers stayed hot through that point, finishing with 19 points on 5-8 shooting from deep. The Ducks went 10-19 from beyond the arc in total.
While MSU's offense stalled in the final minutes, Oregon went on a 13-4 run midway through the quarter to seal the deal. They shot 8-10 in that span.
Kyei continued to be steady in the final 10 minutes as she completed her afternoon with 15 points and a career high 16 rebounds.
McDaniel did not quit though as she hit a three in the dying minutes to add to her game high point total of 28. She shot 12-22 from the field and 3-7 from three.
With the loss, MSU officially drops both games of the PKI and falls to 6-2 on the young season. The Spartans will face Georgia Tech next at home on Thursday night.
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