EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – After its comeback bid fell short against No. 12 Maryland Thursday night, No. 23 Michigan State was looking to right the ship and end its 2-game homestand on a positive.
Nebraska, 3-3 in the Big Ten, had other ideas and played spoiler at the Breslin Center.
With a nine point lead at halftime, Nebraska used that to take down the Spartans, 68-64.
“We kind of got a way from what has helped us,” MSU women’s basketball coach, Suzy Merchant said after the game. “Passing the ball. Sharing the ball. Moving it. We didn’t skip the ball much and attack from there so I think a lot of that stuff was a little self-inflicted.”
MSU came into the game sixth in the country with 21.4 assists per game. Against Nebraska they had 17 assists and 14 turnovers.
Junior guard Nia Clouden, who scored a career-high 32 points against Maryland on Thursday, was held to just three points in the first half, but still led MSU with 14 points in the game.
Clouden also fouled out with 20 seconds remaining in the game and the Spartans down four.
Michigan State made it a 67-64 game with 15 seconds remaining and had a chance to force overtime, but a three-point attempt by Alyza Winston fell short of the mark, and Nebraska would hang on from there.
“We still had a good look at the bucket to send it into overtime, Merchant said. “They extended the game, we did what we had to do. They(Nebraska) missed the free throws, came down and I thought Alyza(Winston) should have took the first one. She hesitated, I’m not sure why because that’s something we need her to do more of.”
It didn’t help the Spartans that Clouden, MSU’s leading scorer, wasn’t on the court in the final seconds with the game on the line. It also didn’t help that MSU’s third leading scorer Julia Ayrault missed the entire second half, due to injury.
“Everyone needs to have that next man up mentality,” MSU junior guard, Tory Ozment said. “Nia(Clouden) is a huge part of our team, and Julia’s been adding a little more value to when people go down we have depth, we have to use that.”
Next up for Michigan State is a matchup on the road against Illinois on Thursday.