Michigan State women’s basketball put up a strong fight against one of the best teams in the country, the Indiana Hoosiers, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, but ultimately fell in the final minutes.
With the loss, the future of this season remains unclear for the Spartans. According to ESPN’s Bracketology, MSU is currently on the ‘Next Four Out’ list. If MSU were to have beaten Indiana, the Spartans would sit right on the bubble for the tournament with a much better chance to get in than they do now.
.From struggling to find consistency midseason to MSU head women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant being sidelined following a medical episode to the mass shooting on campus to putting together a late season run, the players and coaches have been through a lot both on and off the court. MSU women's basketball acting head coach Dean Lockwood said that he was very proud of the way his players have grown throughout everything.
“One of the real joys of coaching is to see growth and maturation,” Lockwood said. “Winning is wonderful. If you're not in this to win, it's hard to last very long. But there is no question that our team has grown and matured this year tremendously. And for that, I am extremely proud of them.”
Even though it was her first season on campus, graduate student guard Kamaria McDaniel stepped in and became a consistent leader that her team looked to whenever they needed a bucket. If not for McDaniel’s 32 points, the Hoosiers would have blown MSU out of the water. She said that her squad was able to control what they could and that helped them get through everything that has happened over the course of the season.
“It's just a testament to us,” McDaniel said. “We've seen every piece of adversity. You could possibly say the unthinkable. We just take it as small as we have to take it in. ... A lot of things have happened out of our control. And when stuff is out of your control, you have to put your focus towards the things you can control and I think we have been a master of the controllables and that's why we're all proud because we could have folded it a long time ago.”
Senior guard Moira Joiner has been a part of the program for four years now, and while she did not take part in Senior Day activities, it meant a lot for her to play as hard as she did throughout the season.
“Being a senior means a lot and you got to play for people that are leaving on this team and you got to play for the university and everything we've been through there,” Joiner said. “It just means everything and I think it'd be a mistake not to put our team in the tournament.”
While their future is out of their hands, Lockwood said that they aren’t going to act like their season is over just yet.
“There is not one ounce of quit in us,” Lockwood said. “Until we see that bracket and we're not in, we're going to prepare to play in a tournament. When we see the bracket and Michigan State's not on there, okay, season's over, but I am not conceding until that point.”
MSU will find out its NCAA tournament fate next Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN's selection show.