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MSU Women's Basketball Ends Season With Loss To Top Seed Notre Dame

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Joe Dandron
/
WKAR-MSU
Jenna Allen, Sidney Cooks, and Suzy Merchant during the postgame press conference.

The MSU women's basketball season comes to a halt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Notre Dame on Monday evening. 

MSU’s Kayle Belles, Tory Ozment, and Nia Clouden all have one thing in common.

 

They’re all freshman. The trio combined for a total of only 26 points in the Spartans 91-63 loss to Notre Dame (32-3, 14-2 ACC) in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Monday evening, but gives Spartan faithful a reason to look towards the future of women’s basketball.

 

“We knew we were going to play Kayla a little more this game because of their (Notre Dame) size and power,” said Suzy Merchant. “We felt like she could handle that, she had played well. Tory we wanted to play, but her problem is she's just been coming off another injury.”

 

The Spartans (21-12, 9-9 Big Ten) closed out the game with those three freshman, sophomore Sidney Cooks, and redshirt-sophomore Laurel Jacqmain, who moved the ball well and gave us a glimpse of who could be some key players next season.

 

The team will only lose senior Jenna Allen from this year’s roster. She ended her four-year career at MSU with the loss Monday evening, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds.

 

“I think after last season not making the NCAA Tournament,” said Allen. “I feel like we all had a goal of, this was where we wanted to be and I feel like everybody over the offseason really worked hard.”

 

The senior had career highs and lows this past season, scoring 27 points in an upset win over Oregon, to going scoreless on the road against Wisconsin. But the one thing that can be said is that she left a mark on this program that few ever will.

 

“I think in coaching you don't always have the complete package. So many kids nowadays when you get them coming in as freshman they don't know who they are,” said Merchant. “They're not supposed to have all the answers when they're 18 years old, but what I'm talking about is they really don't know who they are as a person or what that character inside of them is. Jenna had that.”

 

The game began much like Notre Dame’s first round matchup with Bethune-Cookman University, with the Spartans trailing 11-6 with 4:25 to play in the first quarter at the first media timeout.

 

The Spartans looked ready for the quick jabs Notre Dame threw early, dodging a couple of bullets on open three pointers that were not falling early. Then, the Irish turned up the heat.

Notre Dame went on a tear following the timeout. They rattled of a 14-8 run to close the quarter, with senior Jessica Shepard hitting a lefty layup to beat the buzzer. The layup off a Jackie Young steal and assist gave the Irish a 25-14 lead heading into the second.

 

Then Arike Ogunbowale got going too. She scored 11 points in that second quarter. The senior guard had 23 points in the game.

 

The Irish continued their strong start heading into the half, using a 19-6 run over the last 6:54 of the second quarter, and as Ogunbowale went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer again heading into halftime, it was evident the Irish were ready for their tenth straight Sweet 16 appearance.

 

“I thought we played well at both ends,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw simply said.

 

The Irish grabbed 31 rebounds in the first half alone and outrebounded MSU 49-37 in the game. Senior Brianna Turner also broke the career rebounding record previously set by Irish great Ruth Riley.

 

“Ruth Riley is the most humble person I have met in my whole entire life,” said Turner postgame. “I’m so excited to be in the record books with her.”

 

Turner scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game.

 

The Irish will play Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 this coming week and the Spartans will look to build off the loss heading into next season with a lot of young talent coming in. The Spartans will bring in the No. 7 ranked recruiting class for 2019.

 

 

 

They’re all freshman. The trio combined for a total of only 26 points in the Spartans 91-63 loss to Notre Dame (32-3, 14-2 ACC) in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Monday evening, but gives Spartan faithful a reason to look towards the future of women’s basketball.

 

 

“We knew we were going to play Kayla a little more this game because of their (Notre Dame) size and power,” said Suzy Merchant. “We felt like she could handle that, she had played well. Tory we wanted to play, but her problem is she's just been coming off another injury.”

 

The Spartans (21-12, 9-9 Big Ten) closed out the game with those three freshman, sophomore Sidney Cooks, and walk-on Laurel Jacqmain, who moved the ball well and gave us a glimpse of who could be some key players next season.

 

The team will only lose senior Jenna Allen from this year’s roster. She ended her four-year career at MSU with the loss Monday evening, scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds.

 

“I think after last season not making the NCAA Tournament,” said Allen. “I feel like we all had a goal of, this was where we wanted to be and I feel like everybody over the offseason really worked hard.”

 

The senior had career highs and lows this past season, scoring 27 points in an upset win over Oregon, to going scoreless on the road against Wisconsin. But the one thing that can be said is that she left a mark on this program that few ever will.

 

“I think in coaching you don't always have the complete package. So many kids nowadays when you get them coming in as freshman they don't know who they are,” said Merchant. “They're not supposed to have all the answers when they're 18 years old, but what I'm talking about is they really don't know who they are as a person or what that character inside of them is. Jenna had that.”

 

The game began much like Notre Dame’s first round matchup with Bethune-Cookman University, with the Spartans trailing 11-6 with 4:25 to play in the first quarter at the first media timeout.

 

The Spartans looked ready for the quick jabs Notre Dame threw early, dodging a couple of bullets on open three pointers that were not falling early. Then, the Irish turned up the heat.

 

Notre Dame went on a tear following the timeout. They rattled of a 14-8 run to close the quarter, with senior Jessica Shepard hitting a lefty layup to beat the buzzer. The layup off a Jackie Young steal and assist gave the Irish a 25-14 lead heading into the second.

 

Then Arike Ogunbowale got going too. She scored 11 points in that second quarter. The senior guard had 23 points in the game.

 

The Irish continued their strong start heading into the half, using a 19-6 run over the last 6:54 of the second quarter, and as Ogunbowale went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer again heading into halftime, it was evident the Irish were ready for their tenth straight Sweet 16 appearance.

 

“I thought we played well at both ends,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw simply said.

 

The Irish grabbed 31 rebounds in the first half alone and outrebounded MSU 49-37 in the game. Senior Brianna Turner also broke the career rebounding record previously set by Irish great Ruth Riley.

 

“Ruth Riley is the most humble person I have met in my whole entire life,” said Turner postgame. “I’m so excited to be in the record books with her.”

 

Turner scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the game.

 

The Irish will play Texas A&M in the Sweet 16 this coming week and the Spartans will look to build off the loss heading into next season with a lot of young talent coming in. The Spartans will bring in the No. 7 ranked recruiting class for 2019.

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