Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball preview
Coming off a thrilling come-from-behind win over Northeastern on Sunday, the EMU women’s basketball team will host the Michigan State Spartans tonight.
Of course, there’s another big story here, which is the return of Suzy Merchant. Merchant, of course, was previously the coach at EMU from 1999 through 2007. Merchant posted a 147-91 (.618) record as head coach of the Eagles, making her EMU’s winningest women’s basketball head coach.1 Among her accomplishments in eight years at the helm are three 20-win seasons, three postseason appearances and two MAC West Division titles. In 2004, the team won MAC Tournament for the first time, earning EMU’s first NCAA Tournament bid, and were one missed three-point shot away from upsetting the #3 Boston College Eagles.
But ultimately it’s up to the players to get it done. Each team is just one game into the season, so stats won’t tell the whole story, but we’ll take a look anyway…
What you see there is a very balanced effort against a badly overmatched opponent, Texas-Arlington. Players with particularly noteworthy performances were junior forward Annalise Pickrel, who hit four of seven three-point attempts en route to an 18-point day, junior guard Klarissa Bell with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists (all team highs), and sophomore center Jasmine Hines, with 11 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Although they’re not currently ranked, Michigan State did get a few votes in the most recent AP poll.
In the all-time series, Michigan State is 13-1 against EMU. The Eagles nearly landed another win in the last meeting, December 3, 2011, in East Lansing. The game was close throughout the first half, with the Eagles leading 22-17 at the half. EMU opened the second half with a 20-11 run, pushing the lead to 42-28 inside 12 minutes to play. Over the final 12 minutes, the Spartans outscored the Eagles 21-8 to narrow the gap to 50-49 with half a minute left. With 28 seconds left, Tavelyn James made two free throws to push the lead to three points, before Jasmine Thomas nailed a three-pointer to send the game into overtime. Michigan State came out strong early in the overtime period, but with 28 seconds left Tavelyn James hit a layup to narrow the Spartans lead to 60-59. The Eagles picked up a turnover, but James was never able to find a clean shot and Michigan State came away with a one-point overtime win — about as close as a game can be.
Of course, I’d be entirely remiss not to mention EMU’s one win over MSU, which came on the same day 11 years earlier, December 3, 2000, when the Eagles defeated the Spartans, 66-59, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. EMU’s coach? Suzy Merchant.
- By a single game. Kathy Hart won 146 games at EMU. [↩]