After a gritty fight, the Michigan State women’s basketball team fell to No. 18 Michigan 77-67 for the second time this season, extending its losing streak to three.
The Spartans got off to a hot start, and lead for the entirety of the first half, but it just was not enough to knock off a ranked opponent in the end.
The tip was won by sophomore forward Isaline Alexander, and senior guard Moira Joiner immediately made her way down the court to hit a huge three for the early lead.
Michigan State was off to a hot start on both ends of the floor, forcing four turnovers in the first three minutes of play and keeping the Wolverines scoreless for nearly four minutes.
A huge block from redshirt junior guard Julia Ayrault sent the ball back to the other end of the floor, but Michigan started finding its groove and making plays offensively and defensively to close the Spartan lead down to just six points by the end of the first quarter.
Michigan State really slowed down at the start of the second quarter. They were slow to grab rebounds, and their shots just did not seem to fall.
With three minutes left in the first half, fifth-year guard Leigha Brown sunk the equalizing three for the Wolverines, but the Spartans were not ready to relent their lead.
With the Spartans in possession of the ball, freshman guard Abbey Kimball added some life to the end of Michigan State’s first-half campaign with a massive three.
When the Wolverines were moving down the court, Joiner cut in to steal the ball and send it back to the other end of the court for an Ayrault three-pointer.
The Spartans ended the first half with a three-pointer from sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh that sent Michigan State on a 6-0 scoring run.
Michigan turned over the ball nine times in the first half and allowed the Spartans to score 12 points off turnovers. Both teams went to the locker room at the half with Michigan State leading 40-33.
On Michigan’s first possession of the second half, Joiner racked up yet another steal and on Michigan’s second possession, Alexander knocked the layup from graduate student forward Emily Kiser out of the air.
In the first four minutes of the second half, the Spartans had just four points off of a free throw and a three-pointer, but a three from Brown gave Michigan their first lead of the game.
MSU was still unwilling to relent the game, and an offensive rebound by senior forward Taiyier Parks sent the ball toward graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel for a three and gave the lead back to the Spartans.
From this point on, the game was back-and-forth. Neither team was going down without a fight. The game was scrappy and both teams were ready to do what it took to win.
Sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann ended the third quarter on a high note for Michigan State. As the seconds were winding down, Hagemann let a three fly from half-court and sunk it as the buzzer sounded to send the packed Breslin crowd into a frenzy.
The start of the fourth quarter was anything but positive for the Spartans. Michigan State failed to make a single basket in the first two and a half minutes of play, whereas the Wolverines went on a 10-0 scoring run.
Fortunately for the Spartans, they snapped out of the drought about three minutes into the final quarter. Ekh hit a massive three-point shot to breathe some life into the suffering Michigan State team, and the ball was rolling.
MSU got the ball back on a bad pass turnover from Michigan and Alexander was able to net a layup for another two points. Once the Wolverines got the ball back, they were forced to take a timeout because of Joiner's solid defense.
After the short-lived impressive showing from the Spartans, the game shifted heavily in favor of the Wolverines. Michigan State was unable to get any points on the board, and Michigan felt right at home on the free throw line where they shot 13-17.