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Michigan State Women’s Basketball: Ohio State and Northwestern recaps

Suzy Merchant is in COVID-19 protocols and Nia Clouden was named an ESPN top-25 player

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 12 Womens - Michigan State at Ohio State Photo by Graham Stokes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team saw action in two games this week, splitting the pair. A hard fought road loss at Ohio State Wednesday night was contrasted with a home win Sunday over Northwestern.

Ohio State Recap

Michigan State managed to jump out to a big lead at the end of the first quarter, leading the Buckeyes 27-18. The Spartans also managed to outscore OSU in the fourth quarter 26-18, but the second quarter proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel when Ohio State outscored MSU 28-8.

Freshman Matilda Ekh led Michigan State in scoring in the game with 27 points. Ekh went 4-for-9 from three-point range and made all five of her shots from the free-throw line. The game marked a new career high in points (27), field goals (nine), free throws (five), and assists (four) for the freshman.

Nia Clouden was second on the team in scoring with 21 points, while Tamara Farquhar added 13 points and Taiyier Parks scored 11.

Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon led all scorers with 33 points and Taylor Mikesell added 25 points for the Buckeyes as well.

Foul trouble hampered the Spartans in the first half. OSU managed a 9-0 run early in the second quarter to trim the MSU lead to just 31-30. The Buckeyes finished the half on a 16-3 run to lead 46-35 heading into the locker room.

Clouden sparked a Michigan State 6-0 run to open the third quarter, but MSU couldn’t trim the Buckeyes’ lead enough. With an Ekh three-pointer to close out the third quarter, the Spartans cut the deficit to 71-57 to head into the fourth quarter. The Spartans opened the final period with a 7-0 run, but Ohio State never let Michigan State get closer than four points with 2:20 left in the game.

Coach Merchant’s Post Game Remarks

Nia Clouden named top-25 player

Clouden was named by ESPN as a top-25 player in college women’s basketball in a mid-season update to the list, coming in at No. 22. Somehow, Clouden was left off the preseason list, not even in the receiving votes category, released prior to the start of the season.

This just goes to show it is never too late to get the record corrected even when wildly off the mark the first go around. Clouden’s improvement in her game over her career along with excellent shooting this season were what drew the focused praise in her ranking profile.

2022 Signees nominated to McDonald’s All-American Games

Early signees for the 2022 class, Theryn Hallock and Abbey Kimball, were both nominated to the McDonald’s All-American Games. Both players hail from Grand Rapids and you can find their early signing day recaps here.

Suzy Merchant sidelined with COVID-19

Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant was unavailable to coach against Northwestern on Sunday and will also miss the game at Indiana on Wednesday, Jan. 19 due to COVID-19 protocols. Assistant coach Dean Lockwood is filling in as acting head coach in her absence.

Northwestern Recap

A stifling defensive effort powered the Spartans past Northwestern on Sunday afternoon in the Breslin Center. MSU downed NU 65-46, outscoring the Wildcats in all four quarters including by double-digits in the fourth quarter. The win moved Michigan State to 9-8 on the season and 3-3 in the Big Ten. The Spartans visit to Evanston earlier this month was canceled due to COVID-19 issues among the Wildcats’ roster, but no makeup date has yet been announced for a potential reschedule of that game.

Michigan State had three players score in double-figures, led by Clouden who finished the game with 19 points. She now has 1,643 career points, making her just the seventh person with 1,600 career points in East Lansing. Clouden is closing in on the No. 6 spot on the all-time scoring list currently held by Allyssa DeHaan and her 1,649 career points. Clouden’s four assists in the game leaver her at No. 8 in all-time Spartan assists with 394, having already passed Eileen Shea (382) and Kim Archer (381). She is now just seven assists away from tying Brittney Thomas.

Freshman DeeDee Hagemann led the team in helpers with six assists while Ekh was second in scoring with 18 points and Parks added 10 points. Parks was second on the glass with eight rebounds and Tamara Farquhar led the Spartans with nine boards.

The Spartans offense started off hot with a 6-2 lead and would finish the quarter up 14-13. The second quarter opened with a three-minute scoring drought before Clouden drained a three-pointer from deep to end the drought and tie the game at 19-19. Both teams coughed up four turnovers in the quarter, but Michigan State headed into the locker room off a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Ekh off a Clouden assist to take the lead 27-25.

Michigan State opened up the second half on a hot streak, going on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and open the lead to 26-25. MSU extended the lead to double-digits again on a Clouden three-pointer to make it 39-27. Northwestern finished the period on a 6-0 run to cut the MSU lead to 48-41.

The final quarter was all Michigan State, though. The Spartans opened with an 11-0 run and held the Wildcats to just five points in the entire quarter.

Michigan State returns to action on Wednesday, Jan. 19 on the road against the No. 6/5 Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. EST and will stream on B1G+.

Dean Lockwood’s Full Remarks

Nia Clouden’s Full Remarks

Matilda Ekh’s Full Remarks