The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team lost the team’s first home game of the season to No. 24/25 Notre Dame tonight. MSU came up short, falling 76-71 to the Fighting Irish. Michigan State moves to 5-3 on the season as a result while Notre Dame improved to 7-1. Michigan State also fell to 6-8 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Spartans had chances in this one. MSU drew first blood and managed to lead by as much as six points in the first quarter. Notre Dame tied the game twice and took a brief lead by as much as three just once. Michigan State held the lead at the end of the first, but Dara Mabrey cut Notre Dame’s deficit to just two off a three-pointer with just 0:08 left.
The Irish took over in the second quarter, however. Notre Dame briefly seized the lead 25-24 with 6:29 to go on a jumper by Natalija Marshall before Matilda Ekh responded on a second-chance opportunity. Notre Dame tied it up again at 27 off a Spartan turnover that led to Maddy Westbeld making a layup with 5:25 to go. The Irish went on a run from there top stretch the lead out to as much as seven before Moira Joiner got a second chance layup to stem the bleeding and make it 34-29 Notre Dame. Michigan State cut it to 36-34 thanks to a jumper by Alyza Winston with 1:38 to go and that’s where the score would remain heading into the locker room.
The third quarter was one of runs by both teams, but always coming up short at tying it back up for the Spartans. Meanwhile, Notre Dame stretched the lead out to as much as 10 around the midway point of the quarter. Moira Joiner led MSU in the quarter with scoring, adding six points during the third.
Big time plays from Mo! pic.twitter.com/T9BDspvRaG— Michigan State Women's Basketball (@MSU_WBasketball) December 3, 2021
The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Spartans, but with a larger hole to try and dig out of. Whereas the third saw MSU cut it to within two, the closest Michigan State got in the fourth was cutting it to three off a layup less than 30 seconds into the quarter by Alisia Smith. From there, Notre Dame led anywhere from five to 10 points except for a brief 15 second period between 6:34 and 6:16 when it was just a four point deficit thanks to a three-pointer by Ekh off a fast break. Nia Clouden sunk two free throws in the final two seconds to finish scoring in the game and cut Notre Dame’s lead to just five point, but falling to the Fighting Irish by a final score of 76-71.
Michigan State fell woefully short in the battle on the glass, letting Notre Dame out-rebound the Spartans 45-34. The Irish managed 16 points off second change points, and also hurt Michigan State with 17 points off of 13 Spartan turnovers. Notre Dame also outscored MSU in the paint 36-24.
Clouden scored her sixth straight 20-point game while leading the team in scoring with 20 points, in helpers with six assists and in steals with three, while she also grabbed six rebounds. Ekh was second in scoring with 17 points, Joiner added 14 and Winston finished with 12 to round out the double digit scorers. Taiyier Parks led the team on the glass with eight rebounds and in blocks with three.
Michigan State returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 5 at No. 9 Iowa with the game airing on the Big Ten Network at 4 p.m. EST.