The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team had a busy week of action this past week with a pair of games. In addition, the announcement came out the women’s NCAA tournament would follow the trend of the men’s and other NCAA championships in moving the entire event to one region.
Spartans Fall at Indiana
Despite a lead at the half and hot three-point shooting, Michigan State couldn’t hold on in the second half and fell on the road for the second time straight to a ranked team. MSU moved to 9-4 (4-4 in Big Ten) with a 79-67 loss at Indiana.
Michigan State opened up with an 8-3 run, helped along by going six-for-seven from the field. After extending the lead out to 16-6, the Hoosiers called for a timeout and mounted a comeback to make it 19-15 MSU at the end of the first.
The Hoosiers carried momentum into the second quarter by taking a three-point lead, 23-20 early. However, MSU rallied and took the lead back off a layup by Janai Crooms. The Spartans kept up the scoring and headed into the locker room up 41-33.
Indiana got a heck of a halftime speech, clearly. The Hoosiers came out in the third and out-scored MSU 25-15. Indiana took the lead back with four seconds remaining in the third, going up 58-56 on a layup by Danielle Patterson. The Hoosiers wouldn’t relinquish the lead again.
Indiana opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run over 51 seconds of game action to extend its lead to 67-58. Shortly after that, Indiana had a double-digit lead it held onto for most of the quarter’s remaining action. Michigan State did at least manage the second highest point total against the Hoosiers’ strong defense this season with 67 points.
Nia Clouden led MSU in scoring with 19 points, and moved up to No. 26 all-time in scoring for the Spartans. Her 1,081 points have her trailing Bella Engen (1994-1998) in the No. 25 spot with 1,088. Clouden also had two assists and two steals. She now has 287 career assists and sits just four assists away from matching No. 17 on all-time assists at MSU Maxann Reese (1996-2000).
Alisia Smith had her third career game with double-figures as she scored 17 and led the team on the glass with eight rebounds. Janai Crooms also had a career-high with her 10 points.
MSU Trounces Illinois in East Lansing
Back in the confines of the Breslin Center for the first time in almost a month, the Spartans sailed past the Fighting Illini to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Spartans started out the game sluggish, but quickly snapped out of it. Using a 13-0 run, MSU seized a 15-4 lead over Illinois and led to an Illini timeout with 6:25 left. Despite a 9-0 run by Illinois coming out of the huddle, MSU rode hot shooting from deep to take a 24-15 lead at the buzzer.
MSU went on a 14-0 run early in the second quarter to seize a commanding 42-23 lead. Michigan State would go on to finish out the first half with a 51-28 lead. The Spartans saw nine players score in the first half alone and went 60 percent from the field.
A cold-streak hit in the third quarter, though. Illinois clawed back some with a 21-12 scoring advantage, but the Spartans clung to their lead. A 10-0 scoring run to open the fourth quarter put MSU back on track and the Spartans pushed the lead back out to 73-49. From the 7:51 mark on to the final buzzer Michigan State kept a 20-point cushion for the remainder of action.
Clouden led all scorers with 28 points, while also adding six rebounds and a team-high five assists. Her 28 points extends her streak of double-figure games to 14 this season, and is one of 25-consecutive games now in which she has scored double-figures. Overall, Clouden has managed to score double-digits in 64 of her 77 career games.
Hence it should be no surprise Clouden vaulted from No. 26 to No. 23 on the all-time scoring list for MSU. With her 1,109 points, she now trailed Julie Polakowski (1982-1986) in the No. 22 spot with 1,143 points.
Junior forward Alisia Smith was also in double figures with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Michigan State as a team had 10 steals and four blocks to go with a total of 11 players who notched points.
NCAA Tournament To Be Held Entirely in San Antonio
The NCAA formally announced this week that the entirety of the women’s 2021 basketball tournament will be held in San Antonio.
San Antonio was scheduled to host the Final Four this year, but similar to the men’s tournament along with other championships such as women’s volleyball, the entirety of the tournament will occur in the greater metro region of San Antonio.
Per the release:
Six championship rounds featuring 63 games will be played using five venues and six courts in San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos, Texas, with the Alamodome hosting two of those courts. The NCAA is currently in discussions for games to be played at the following venues and schedule: First-round play will take place March 21-22 at the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena on the campus of St. Mary’s (Texas), Frank Erwin Center (Texas), University Events Center (Texas State) and the UTSA Convocation Center. Second-round play will shift entirely to venues in San Antonio, with the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena and the UTSA Convocation Center playing host March 23-24. The championship will shift to the Alamodome for all remaining rounds, with the Sweet 16 games played March 27-28, Elite Eight games held March 29-30 and the Women’s Final Four conducted April 2 and 4.
Selection Monday will announced the full 64-team field on Monday, March 15 at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.