Michigan State women’s basketball lost its fourth straight game against the No. 10 Hawkeyes in overtime after a solid defensive effort against a potent offense.
However, MSU could not slow down fifth-year forward/center Monika Czinano. She scored 22 points on a perfect 11-11 shooting with seven rebounds to complement.
“Our problem was our postgame was kind of non-existent on both ends of the floor for most of the game,” Head Coach Suzy Merchant said. “Czinano was really good, but 11-for-11?”
Even though Czinano dominated, the Spartans did relatively well against the All-American junior guard Caitlin Clark, who despite finishing the game with a match-leading 26 points, only went 2-10 from 3-point land. She got to the free-throw line 14 times though, and hit 12 from the stripe.
Michigan State was whistled for 25 fouls compared to Iowa’s 16 and Merchant thought that the foul discrepancy was a bit lopsided.
“I thought there were times when they were initiating the contact and we had verticality and they were driving into us and we were strapped up and on our end those were kind of no calls,” Merchant said.
Clark’s team, who leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage at .500, shot 50% but, like Clark, struggled from long range. They only made six of their 22 attempts, which is good for a 27.3% clip.
In the second half, the Spartans turned up a notch defensively. After keeping even with the Hawkeyes in the turnover battle for the first 20 minutes, they flipped the script, finishing with a 20-12 advantage in that category.
MSU scored 20 points off those turnovers and graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel thought that the Spartans' performance against the best offensive team in the conference was one that could give her unit some confidence.
“We can build on that and then offensively just keep figuring each other out,” McDaniel, who hit a halftime buzzer beater just inside half court, said. “But the thing we must do is continue to feed each other confidence. Continue to be confident until things start happening.”
Senior forward Tory Ozment said that she thought they did what they set out to do on defense against the Hawkeye guards, but not their bigs.
“On the guards we wanted to put a lot of pressure on them and kind of frustrate them,” Ozment said. “Take them out of their rhythm. So I think the guards Mo (Joiner), DeeDee (Hagemann), Theryn (Hallock) came and made a big impact on that. I think they did a great job.”
In the end, the effort just was not good enough to cut it against a top 10 opponent. McDaniel, after scoring a team-high 23 points, said that all her team can focus on is correcting their mistakes going forward.
“I'm a forward focus type of person,” McDaniel said. “I mean, we can't change what happened. I can’t go back and change anything. So focus on what we did wrong, identifying those things and moving forward.”
The Spartans (10-9) next matchup will be on Sunday at home against Rutgers (8-11).