The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team was in Ann Arbor on Thursday night to take on the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines in the road finale for the regular season, but fell short in the second half, losing 62-51. It was the third time this season the team had an opportunity to sweep an opponent but was not able to do so. The Spartans defeated then No. 4 Michigan in East Lansing just two weeks ago.
Senior guard Nia Clouden led the Spartans in scoring with 22 points, going 7-for-8 from the free-throw line and 7-for-15 from the field. Freshman point guard DeeDee Hagemann was the only other Spartan to hit double figures in scoring with 13 points, eight of which came in the first quarter. Hagemann’s career-high is 15 points from earlier this season against Marshall.
Hagemann also led the team in helpers with three assists, while Alisia Smith and Tamara Farquhar led MSU in rebounds with seven each. Matilda Ekh and Farquhar led the team in steals with two apiece. Ekh went 0-for-8 from three-point range and managed just two points. Michigan’s Naz Hillmon led all scorers tonight with 28 points.
Michigan State got off to a great start in the first quarter, eventually leading by as much as nine points with 1:52 left in the opening frame, up 14-5 thanks to Ekh’s lone score of the game on a layup. Hillmon finished out the quarter strong for Michigan, scoring the final five points of the quarter to trim Michigan’s deficit to just 14-10.
The second quarter saw Michigan cut the lead to within two points multiple times in the first three minutes. However, the Spartans had a run and pushed the lead back out to six points twice. Michigan again battled back and briefly seized the lead on a three-pointer by Maddie Nolan with 3:48 to go, going up 28-26. Hagemann tied it back up just over a minute later, thanks to a second-chance opportunity provided by a rebound from Smith. The lead changed hands or tied again four times from there before the half. Clouden hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to send both teams into the locker room tied at 32.
Turnovers for touchdowns! Tamara ➡️ DeeDee and we are tied at half time! pic.twitter.com/ytEvbM1331— Michigan State Women's Basketball (@MSU_WBasketball) February 24, 2022
The Wolverines came out of the locker room for the second half and quickly seized the lead for good, however. Michigan opened the lead up to as much as six points twice around the mid-point of the quarter before Michigan State could battle back and trim it to as low as a 46-44 deficit for the Spartans with 1:45 left. Michigan would finish leading 48-44.
The fourth quarter saw a total collapse on offense for Michigan State at the open. Michigan built a lead out to as high as 14 with 6:21 to go. Clouden cut it down moments later at the 6:06 mark with a layup to make it 58-46 Michigan.
The Spartans finished out the fourth quarter on a field goal drought that lasted those final 6:06 of game action, going 0-for-8 from the field. Michigan didn’t fare much better, going 0-for-4 from the field to the end the game and failing to score a point in the final 3:24. With free throws, MSU managed to trim the lead down some in the final moments, but the team finished trailing by double-digits at 62-51.
The Spartans close out the regular season at the Breslin Center Sunday afternoon against No. 17 Ohio State. The game tips off at 2:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.