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Michigan State Women’s Basketball Recap: Strong at home, struggles on road

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Courtesy of Michigan State Women’s Basketball Twitter account

While Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball dominates the content and the conversation on The Only Colors at this point of the season, it’s important that we check in on women’s basketball as well. Let’s recap how the Lady Spartans are doing in the 2018-2019 season thus far and take a look at what’s upcoming for head coach Suzy Merchant and the squad.

Michigan State checks in at 15-5 overall this season. The women’s team currently ranks No. 22 in both the AP Top 25 poll and Coaches poll. The Spartans have won two games in a row, including a road win over their biggest rival, the Michigan Wolverines, on Sunday; as well as a victory over fellow Big Ten rival, Illinois, prior to that.

Big Ten play didn’t start so great for MSU, though. While, the team had an impressive win to begin conference play against No. 16 Iowa, it then dropped three of the next four games. However, the Spartans have now won three of the past four contests, and now sit one game above .500 in the Big Ten (5-4).

There is also a stark difference in performance at home games compared to playing on the road. MSU is 11-0 at home, 1-1 on a neutral court and just 3-4 on the road. The ladies are just 1-4 in the past five games away from the Breslin Center.

Michigan State is 4-2 against ranked opponents, which includes wins over (rankings at the time of play) No. 3 Oregon, No. 9 Maryland, No. 16 Iowa and No. 18 Minnesota. The losses came to (rankings at the time of play) No. 15 North Carolina State and No. 20 Rutgers. The NC State loss was early in the season and only by four points, but the Lady Wolfpack is currently 20-0 (ranked No. 7 in the nation), so that was a strong performance against a great team. Rutgers is currently 16-4 and ranks No. 17 in the AP Top 25.

Michigan State averages 79.3 points per game. The team shoots .464 percent from the field, .399 percent from three-point territory and .689 percent from the free throw line, which needs improvement. Defensively, the Spartans allow 66 points per contest, while opponents shoot .409 overall and just .328 on three-point attempts. Opponents shoot a better free throw percentage at .701. MSU is also out-rebounding opponents 39.3 to 34.8 (+4.5). The team also significantly passes the ball better, averaging 20.3 assists per game versus just 14.1 for the opponents.

MSU is lead by Jenna Allen. The senior center has played in all 20 games this season and averages 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting .541 from the floor, .424 from beyond the arc and .821 from the charity stripe. Guard Shay Colley contributes 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Taryn McCutcheon puts in nearly 11 points per game, 3.3 rebounds and nearly five assists, while freshman guard Nia Clouden has already made her presence felt with just over 11 points per game, with 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per contest.

Next up for the women’s team is two straight home games. They’ll host Penn State (10-10) on Thursday, and then Purdue (15-7) visits the Breslin Center on Sunday, Feb. 3. The Spartans look to remain perfect at home.

Go Green!