After almost coming back from being down as many as 21 points last time out on the road against Nebraska, Michigan State women’s basketball (11-11, 3-8) will try to settle the season series score at home against its rival, No. 18 Michigan (18-5, 8-4) at home.
The Wolverines took the first matchup of the series 70-55 in Ann Arbor. Fifth-year guard Leigha Brown torched MSU with a game-high 17 points in the contest.
With Head Women's Basketball Coach Suzy Merchant missing her third straight game, associate head coach Dean Lockwood will again be at the head of the bench for the Spartans. He said his team will have to create quality shots if they want to split the regular season series against the school down the road.
“They're long, they're big,” Lockwood said. “They play aggressively. So we're gonna have to crack that code a little bit to be able to get good shots against them. I don't think we did that really well enough in the first game. We were sporadic in what we did.”
Sophomore guard DeeDee Hagemann and sophomore forward Matilda Ekh were vital in the second half (almost) comeback against the Cornhuskers, combining for 28 points in the final 20 minutes. Lockwood was impressed with their performances and emphasized that the team will need them to play at this level if they want to start scraping out some wins as the regular season continues to go on.
“DeeDee has really ... matured here in recent games,” Lockwood said. “She's leading more. She's much more efficient in what she's doing. Defensively, I really liked the effort that we're getting out of DeeDee. ... Making free throws has been a problem for us and for her to step up and make big free throws, I thought she just made smart plays and big plays for us and that's big. Matilda didn't hit her first three till the third quarter. But then she kind of got on track a little bit. ... She hit that first one and then we had a couple of kickoffs to her and she didn't hesitate at all, which is what we need her to do.”
This season, MSU has been notorious for stalling in moments that are decisive in determining if its effort results in wins or losses. Hagemann said that they have to give everything they have the entire game if they want to send their rival home with a loss.
“I feel like we need to play all 40 minutes,” Hagemann said. “But I feel like that's where we're lacking because we usually will have like a bad quarter. And I feel like we can't have any bad quarters especially in this league.”
Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. on BTN +.