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Michigan State Women’s Basketball: West Palm Beach Invitational Recap

Despite Nia Clouden’s record-setting game against Florida Gulf Coast, the Spartans went 0-2.

MSU Athletic Communications

The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team was in West Palm Beach, Florida for the past two days, taking part in the West Palm Beach Invitational. While one of the games featured a herculean and record-setting effort by Nia Clouden, the Spartans return to East Lansing having gone 0-2 against Florida Gulf Coast and West Virginia.

Florida Gulf Coast Recap

Michigan State made it to double-overtime against the Eagles, but fell just short in an 85-84 loss. MSU moved to 1-2 all-time against Florida Gulf Coast and to 7-5 (1-1 Big Ten) on the season with the loss.

Senior guard Nia Clouden absolutely shattered the school’s single-game scoring record with a 50-point performance, breaking All-American Tori Jankoska’s record of 42 points against Ohio State set on Jan. 17, 2017. Clouden is the first player in the NCAA to score 50 points this season, and just the third Big Ten player to ever do so, joining Minnesota’s Rachel Banham (2015-2016) and Michigan’s Naz Hillman (2020-2021). She also tied the school record with men’s basketball’s Terry Furlow for most points scored by either a Michigan State men’s or women’s basketball player. Furlow scored 50 points in a home matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Jan. 5, 1976.

The Spartans opened action strong in the first quarter, opening a lead of 19-12 at the end of the first period. However, the Eagles recovered in the second quarter and opened a narrow edge heading into the locker room at halftime up 32-31. Despite MSU leading for most of the first half, Andrea Cecil scored a layup for the Florida Gulf Coast with just four seconds left before the break to give her team the lead.

Michigan State had the advantage in the third quarter, scoring nine of the first 12 points in the period. MSU ended the period with a 52-50 advantage over FGCU. However, FGCU managed to tie it up in the fourth quarter as the game featured three lead changes in the final period of regulation and three ties. The Eagles managed to outscore the Spartans 16-14, almost winning in regulation after a layup by Kierstan Bell with 2:17 left gave FGCU a 66-63 advantage. However, Clouden scored a trey with 1:49 left to answer and force overtime after neither team managed to break out of the tie.

Michigan State took a three-point advantage with 3:25 left in the extra period, but FGCU answered with just 11 seconds left to take a 76-75 lead. Tamara Farquhar was fouled with just two seconds left and hit one of two from the free throw line to force double-overtime, though. Florida Gulf Coast managed to outscore the Spartans nine to eight in the second overtime period for the win.

Bell led the Eagles in scoring with 28 points, while four total Eagles scored in double-figures.

While Clouden led all players in scoring with 50 points, Taiyier Parks managed a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Parks was the only other Spartan player to manage double-digits in scoring. Farquhar led the team in boards with 16, while DeeDee Hagemann led the team in assists with six and steals with three, but fell just short of double-figures in scoring with nine points.

West Virginia Recap

After a tough, but hard-fought double-overtime loss to Florida Gulf Coast on Monday, the Spartans suffered a lopsided loss to West Virginia on Tuesday, falling 74-54. Despite shooting 40 percent from three-point range, MSU shot a miserable 29 percent from the field overall on 16-of-55 shooting on tired legs.

Michigan State managed to keep it close in the first half. Once again, MSU led at the end of the first quarter after a strong start to open the game. Leading 18-12, the Spartans failed to keep West Virginia in check after that, as the Mountaineers scored the first six points of the second quarter to tie it up at 18-18 before later going on a 7-0 run to seize a 25-20 lead. Michigan State managed to do well from the free throw line, going 9-for-11 in the quarter, but headed into the locker room down 31-29 at halftime.

The Mountaineers came out strong in the third period down low, eventually opening up the lead on a 10-0 run to close out the quarter up 45-31, as the Spartans’ legs clearly ran out of gas. Despite managing to close the gap to within nine points in the fourth quarter at one point, WVU had an answer on offense and went on a 9-2 run to push the lead back out and eventually finish the game up 74-54.

Clouden led both teams in scoring with 22 points, marking her eighth game of the season with 20-plus points. The 22 points moved Clouden to 1,564 career points, good for the No. 9 spot on the MSU all-time scoring list after surpassing Kalisha Keane. Clouden also had a second-straight game of double-digit free throws made, going 10-of-11 against WVU after going 15-of-17 against FGCU on Monday.

Hagemann also scored double-figures with 13 points, while she added four rebounds and a team high five assists. Alisia Smith led the team with three steals, while Parks, Hagemann, and Smith each notched a team high two blocks. Matildah Ekh and Farquhar led the team in rebounds with seven apiece.

After a break for the Christmas holiday, Michigan State returns to Big Ten Conference play against the currently undefeated Nebraska Cornhuskers on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Breslin Center. The game is available by subscription only streaming service B1G+.