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MSU women's basketball fails to find consistency against Michigan

January 15, 2023

The MSU women's basketball team took on the University of Michigan at the Crisler Center on Jan. 14, 2023. The Spartans ultimately lost to the Wolverines with a score of 70-55.

Around two weeks ago, it seemed that Michigan State women's basketball turned a corner. 

They were on a four-game win streak, with the biggest win of the season coming in that span against then No. 4 Indiana. The team seemed to be rolling.

Fast forward, they are currently in a three-game losing streak with their most recent loss coming on the road to their rivals, the Wolverines.

"The best teams in the league are consistent," Head Coach Suzy Merchant said after her team's double digit loss to U-M. "That's not been something we've done very well.

One thing that has been consistent for MSU all season long is their positive turnover margin. Against the Wolverines, it was a different story. Before their game against U-M, the Spartans sat second in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation at plus 7-2. Against Michigan, they turned the ball over 22 times compared to their opponents who finished with just 13.

"I knew Michigan State was going to challenge us in that area," Michigan Head Coach Kim Arico said. "So we have really been we've been practicing that all year long, but really specifically practicing for them the last couple of days of handling that pressure." 

In most of the team's losses this season, the Spartans have seem to dig themselves into a holes but crawl back only to fold in the final minutes. After leading in the early minutes against Michigan, MSU kept within five until around the end of the third quarter. Merchant said it was a mix of little things that led to another falter, although this time it came a quarter early. 

"We come out of timeouts and you know, you gotta say, well, this is what we're gonna do defensively. And we don't do it. We only got the ball screen and then Isa (sophomore forward Isaline Alexander) doesn't do it. And so it's like, to me it's like a combination of a lot of little things that we just didn't do a very good job of."

MSU has also struggled to find consistent scorers outside of graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel and sophomore forward Matilda Ekh. Against MSU sophomore starting point guard DeeDee Hagemann had two points on 0-5 shooting and senior guard Moira Joiner, who recently tied her career high against Wisconsin with 20, also had two points on 2-9 shooting and fouled out near the end of the fourth quarter. 

"You want to be able to get to 10 people that show up you know, at least three or four."

If Michigan State wants to take that next step and improve their conference record from 2-5, they will have to find some sort of consistency. At this point of the season the NCAA Tournament is on the horizon and currently MSU is hanging around the bubble. Some of these losses will need to be turned into wins if they want their postseason hopes to become reality. 

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