Double-digit scoring efforts propel MSU women’s basketball to defeat No. 4 Indiana

As the clock ticked down into the final minutes of regulation on Thursday, the Breslin Center was the loudest of the entire season. Deafening cheers from the 4,533 fans in attendance were sparked by the thought of MSU clinching its first conference victory of the season over an undefeated No. 4 Indiana team.

MSU competed with higher-ranked opponents in close matchups a handful of times this season, but continually failed to emerge victorious.

The Spartans were down 17 points against No. 18 Oregon in the Phil Knight Invitational on November 27, but managed to tie the game. Despite leveling the playing field, they couldn’t finish the job, falling 86-78.

Not long after, MSU suffered its third straight loss to Georgia Tech at home 66-63 in the final seconds of the game on December 1. Just four days later, the Spartans did it again, falling 76-71 to Purdue in overtime. . MSU had a chance to defeat No. 3 Ohio State on December 11 after attempting a comeback, but instead fell for the fifth straight time in a 74-68 loss.

Thursday’s game was a different story. The Spartans defeated No. 4 Indiana, handing the Hoosiers an 83-78 loss, their first of the season.

So what was the manufacturer of the difference?

Four MSU players racked up double-digit points, allowing the Spartans to maintain their momentum for the duration of the game.

Although the lead changed five times, Indiana never led by more than one point. Michigan State’s biggest lead was 11 points in the third quarter.

Graduate guard Kamaria McDaniel has been a key offensive player all season for the Verdiblancos, and the matchup against the Hoosiers was no different. Leading the team in scoring once again, McDaniel had 24 points, three assists, one block and one steal.

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Prior to the start of the season, McDaniel transferred to MSU from Baylor, where he appeared in 10 games last season. Prior to that, McDaniel spent three seasons at Penn State.

“Personally, the fact that I was told so many times, and being in this moment and being a part of it is something that I will remember forever,” McDaniel said of her performance. “I thank God, my teammates, my coaches, everyone: we believe in each other and that’s all we need to believe. So it’s an amazing feeling, but we have to get back to work.”

Sophomore guard/forward Matilda Ekh and senior forward Taiyier Parks followed McDaniel with 18 points each. Ekh, who has been another offensive asset for the Spartans this year, also had three assists and a steal.

“Winning this game tonight meant a lot to us,” Parks said. “I feel like we fed off each other’s energy and that helped us, and we stuck together to get the win.”

Meanwhile, second-year guard DeeDee Hagemann chipped in 15 points with eight assists and five steals.

With multiple players putting up significant stats, McDaniel said it makes MSU harder to protect since the opponent can’t “get into” one or two players.

“It definitely helps,” McDaniel said. “I know we have a lot of people who can play basketball at a very high level on our team and that showed today. I knew they could play hoops, so I’m glad everyone else can see it.”

One thing that caught the attention of head coach Suzy Merchant and her players about the game was the support of the home crowd.

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“They were loud,” Merchant said. “I thought they were an important factor, for us, our energy. We brought the energy, but so did they, you know. And so I think down the stretch, it was important for us to listen to them so we could build our confidence.”

Hagemann said the team was prepared for a great turnout and knew they had to give the fans what they came to see: a win.

“We were hoping there would be a lot of fans since we’re off, and we just wanted to take care of our territory,” Hagemann said. “We didn’t want to lose in front of all these fans and just protect the field.”

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While this is an impressive win to add to his resume, Merchant said the Spartans aren’t done yet and will have to work to keep this win from being a “one-hit wonder.”

“Tomorrow is a new day, Northwestern wherever they play, they’re going to get ready for the next one, Indiana’s going to have to get ready for the next one,” Merchant said. “The league is too good not to have any disappointment, right? So you can’t be so excited about this one that you think about the next one.”


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