Spartans Host Cincinnati in the WNIT Thursday
MSU opens first-round play against the Bearcats at the Breslin Center.
|Michigan State (17-13, 7-9 B1G) vs. Cincinnati (19-12, 10-6 AAC)|
|Date||Thursday, March 15|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center | Bag Policy|
|Tickets||Click To Purchase|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Cincinnati|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Cincinnati|
|Promotions||Free for MSU Students|
|Social Media||@MSU_WBasketball | Facebook | Instagram|
EAST LANSING, Mch. - Michigan State women’s basketball returns to the Breslin Center on Thursday, March 15 against Cincinnati at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus. This is MSU’s first trip to the WNIT since reaching the finals in 2008. The Spartans are 11-4 overall in the WNIT.
• Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee is now just the eighth person in Michigan State history to score at least 1,200 points and bring down 650 rebounds. She joins Tori Jankoska, Aerial Powers, Liz Shimek, Allyssa DeHaan, Kris Emerson, Kristen Rasmussen and Lykendra Johnson. Agee has scored 1,229 points and has 698 boards.
• Suffering through multiple injuries this season, Michigan State has shuffled the lineup around many times this season. This year, the Spartans have used 13 different starting lineups.
• In the Spartans Big Ten Tournament four overtime battle with Indiana, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon set a new school record for minutes played when she logged in 60 in what was the longest game in school history. The game is also the longest in Big Ten Tournament history. MSU was edged by Indiana, 111-109.
• MSU had four players named to the All-Big Ten teams. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley and redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee all earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and the media. Junior center Jenna Allen garnered honorable mention honors from the media.
The injury-ravaged Spartans have used 13 different starting lineups this season. Against Indiana on March 1, senior forward Taya Reimer, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, junior center Jenna Allen and redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley all earned starts.
McCutcheon made her team-leading 29th start of the season, as part of her 62nd of her career. Agee made her 20th start of the season and 82nd of her career against Indiana. Allen has started 22 games this season and 25 for her career. Cooks has started for the 22 of MSU’s 30 games this season. Gussert has made 11 starts this year.
Only four Spartans have played in all 30 games this season: Jenna Allen, Sidney Cooks, Victoria Gaines and Nia Hollie.
SPARTANS IN THE WNIT
MSU has now advanced to postseason play 15 of the last 16 seasons. Michigan State joins Indiana, Penn State and Purdue in the field of 64 WNIT teams. Overall 11 Big Teams will be playing in either the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT.
This is Michigan State’s first trip to the WNIT since the 2008 season when the Spartans fell in the championship game. That season, MSU played all five games at home, before falling to Marquette 81-66. Overall, the Spartans are 11-4 in the WNIT, including 4-0 in the first round and 4-0 in the second round.
WELCOME BACK COLLEY
After missing the previous seven games due to injury, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley returned to action on Feb. 14 against Nebraska, checking in part way through the first quarter. Colley played 24 minutes and tallied 15 points, five assists, four rebounds and one steal in her first action since Jan. 16 at Illinois. Against Indiana on March 1, she had her third 20-point game of the season with 27 points and three assists in the loss. Since her return, Colley has averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.
Without Colley, the Spartans were 1-6, averaging only 62.3 points per game, while allowing 71.9 ppg, while the guard was out. Since her return, MSU is 2-1, scoring 73.3 ppg and allowing 69.3 ppg.
Many records were set in Michigan State’s first round loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, 111-109 in four overtimes on March 1.
• This was the first four overtime game in Big Ten Tournament history. Thursday was MSU’s third OT game in B1G Tournament history and second multi-OT conference tournament game. The Spartans have split the previous two tournament OT games, losing 92-89 to Ohio State in 2002, and beating Illinois, 61-50, in 2005. Most OTs in college or pro game in Bankers Life Fieldhouse history.
• The game was the longest in Michigan State history after a pair of triple overtime games in 2016 and 1991. The Spartans are now 1-2 in games with at least three overtimes.
• McCutcheon set a new high for points in a Big Ten Tournament game with 21 against Indiana. Her previous high was 10 points against Wisconsin in the first round last season.
• McCutcheon (60), Colley (48), Gaines (47), Reimer (44), Agee (45) all set or tied career highs in minutes played.
SCOUTING THE BEARCATS
Cincinnati is 19-12 overall, after recording a 10-6 American Athletic Conference record, earning the No. 4 seed in the AAC Tournament, falling to No. 1 UConn, 75-21, on March 5 in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament, spoiling UC’s first-ever bid to the semifinals. The Bearcats are having their best season since the 2002-03 squad went 23-8 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. UC earned the right to face UConn with a thrilling, 66-65 victory over Tulsa in the quarterfinals, hitting the game-winner with 4.6 seconds left. Cincinnati is making its first appearance in the postseason since the 2012 WNIT, when the Bearcats won in the first round, 68-63 in OT vs. Duquesne, before falling at Toledo, 72-51.
Junior guard Nikira Goings leads a quartet of Bearcat players in double-figures, netting 11.3 points per game, also leading UC with 37.2 3-point percentage (55-of-148). Senior guard Ana Owens adds 10.8 ppg and leads the team with both 3.9 assists per game and 92.3 percent (72-of-78) at the free throw line. Senior forward Shanice Johnson logs 10.4 ppg and 6.1 rebounds per game, adding 2.0 steals and 0.9 blocks per contest, which both lead UC. Freshman forward Iimar’i Thomas rounds out the four double-digit scorers at 10.0 points and leads the team with both 6.2 rebounds per game and 59.7 percent (126-of-211) field goal percentage.
The Bearcats have a +3.8 scoring margin, scoring 66.2 points per game, while allowing 62.4 ppg. Cincinnati has a +3.7 rebounding margin, pulling down 39.3 rebounds per game, while the opposition average 35.5 rpg. UC averages 41.3 percent field goal shooting, netting 29.9 percent from 3-point range and 72.1 percent at the free throw line. The Bearcats’ opposition averages 38.1 field goal percentage, 30.5 3-point percentage and 72.6 percent at the charity stripe.
UC head coach Jamelle Elliott is in her ninth season leading the Bearcats, logging a 113-161 record.
Michigan State and Cincinnati have four common opponents in East Tennessee State, Ohio State, USF and UConn, with MSU posting a 2-2 mark against those four teams, while UC was 0-6 against those same four opponents. The Spartans beat ETSU, 83-74 in OT, in Johnson City, Tenn., on Dec. 16, while the Bearcats lost at ETSU, 87-77, in the season-opener on Nov. 10. MSU lost at No. 12 Ohio State, 78-62, on Jan. 27, while UC lost at home to No. 13 OSU, 87-76 on Dec. 17. Michigan State beat No. 22 USF, 83-73, on Dec. 21 in New Orleans, while Cincinnati lost to No. 22 USF, 69-46, on Jan. 3 and No. 18 USF, 84-65, on Feb. 24. MSU lost to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, on Nov. 25 in the PK80 Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, 96-62, while UC lost to top-ranked UConn, 106-65, on Feb. 4 in the regular-season and 72-21 in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament on March 5.
LAST TIME VS. CINCINNATI
Tori Jankoska scored a career-high 30 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead No. 20 Michigan State to a 103-63 win over Cincinnati in the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas on Nov. 27, 2015. Aerial Powers added 20 points to go with six rebounds, and Branndais Agee had 10 points for Michigan State (4-0), which pierced the triple-digit scoring mark for the first time since 2013. The Spartans hit 59 percent of their 65 shots from the field and controlled the boards 43-22.
POSSIBLE SECOND ROUND OPPONENTS
In the second round, either MSU or UC will take on the winner of the game between Toledo and Wright State, which will be played on Friday, March 15 in Toledo.
TOLEDO - COMMON OPPONENTS
Michigan State and Toledo shared two common opponents in Detroit Mercy and Western Michigan. The Spartans were 2-0 against those squads, while UT was 3-0 with a pair of wins against the Broncos. MSU defeated Detroit Mercy on the road, 97-60 and beat WMU, 65-62 at home. Toledo stopped Detroit Mercy, 81-64 on the road and beat WMU both at home and on the road.
Michigan State women’s basketball returns to the Breslin Center on Thursday, March 15 against Cincinnati at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus. This is MSU’s first trip to the WNIT since reaching the finals in 2008. The Spartans are 11-4 overall in the WNIT.Toledo (17-14) will entertain Horizon League member Wright State (23-10) in a first-round WNIT match-up on Friday, March 16. Toledo will be appearing in the Postseason WNIT for a sixth time under 10th-year head coach Tricia Cullop and 11th time overall. Overall, the Rockets are 20-9 in the post-season tourney, including 13-4 under coach Cullop, and previously reached the WNIT in 1989, ‘90, ‘94, ‘98, 2003, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12 , ‘13 and ‘15. Three Toledo players are averaging in double figures led by Kaayla McIntyre, who averages 16.1 ppg. As a team, the Rockets score 67.7 ppg, while scoring 68.6 ppg.
WRIGHT STATE - COMMON OPPONENTS
Michigan State and Wright State share two common opponents this season in Oakland and Detroit Mercy, and both teams are undefeated against the Golden Grizzlies and Titans. Michigan State defeated Oakland, 95-63, on Nov. 13 and Detroit Mercy, 97-60, on Nov. 21. Wright State took down Oakland twice, 77-57 on Jan. 4 and 80-75 on Feb. 10, and also downed Detroit Mercy twice, 88-60 on Jan. 6 and 85-55 on Feb. 8.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS
The Raiders earned their fourth-straight bid to the WNIT after finishing the season with a 23-10 record. Offensively, the team is first in the league with an average of 73.3 points per game, and has held opponents to 60.7 points on average, good for fourth-best in the conference. Chelsea Welch leads the team and the league in scoring, averaging 21.3 points per game to earn the Horizon League Player of the Year award. Symone Simmons is the team’s leading rebounder, pulling down 8.1 rpg.
LENDING A HELPING HAND
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon continues to climb up the single-season assists charts with 158 helpers this season. The sophomore passed Deb Traxinger, who had 148 assists during the 1979-80 season. She is now two assists from tying All-American Tori Jankoska, who had 160 assists during the 2016-17 season. As a freshman, McCutcheon was had 169 helpers, which was fourth all-time in a single season.
In head coach Suzy Merchant’s tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. Overall, MSU has scored at least 70 points 14 times overall this season. MSU has won 118 of its last 130 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 135-19 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 12-2 when scoring at least 70 with losses to Indiana on March 1 and Minnesota on Jan. 7.
GETTING OVER 40
Rebounding has been the key to the Spartans’ success. MSU is 14-7 when getting over 40 boards in a game. Michigan State has had over 56 rebounds three times this season against Oakland, College of Charleston and Detroit Mercy. Overall the Spartans are 13-5 when out-rebounding its opponents.
Michigan State is 6-0 against UC, stopping the Bearcats, 103-63, on Nov. 27, 2015 at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas, which was the first meeting since 2004. The teams have a lengthy history with the first meeting coming in 1977 on the road with MSU earning the 96-61 advantage. The teams have only met once in East Lansing, in 2003 with the Spartans capturing the victory, 55-43.
AGEE ADDS HER NAME
Redshirt senior Branndais Agee is leaving her mark on the Michigan State program. With a career-high 17 rebounds against Indiana on March 1, Agee now has 698 career rebounds, moving up to No. 12 on the Spartans’ career rebounds list, passing Jill Prudden who had 692 in her career (1975-78). Agee is now just three boards away from tying Kisha Kelley (1991-95), who had 701 career rebounds. Agee is also 14th in scoring with 1,229 career points, passing Spartan great Kristin Haynie (2001-05), who had 1,194 career points. With 60 blocks, she is tied for 13th in career blocks with Cetera Washington (2007-11), passing Aerial Powers (2014-16). Agee is tied for seventh in career games played with 133.
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee is now just the eighth person in Michigan State history to score at least 1,200 points and bring down 650 rebounds. She joins Tori Jankoska, Aerial Powers, Liz Shimek, Allyssa DeHaan, Kris Emerson, Kristen Rasmussen and Lykendra Johnson. Agee has scored 1,229 points and has 698 boards.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
This season, the Spartans are 9-5 at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. MSU was a perfect 6-0 in non-conference action and 3-5 in league play. At home, MSU is averaging 76.2 points per game, while allowing 60.6. Two Spartans score in double figures at home, led by redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley, who averages 12.9 ppg. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee (11.3 ppg) has scored in double digits. MSU dominates the boards at home with a rebound margin +9.1.
ANATOMY OF AN UPSET
On Jan. 11, Michigan State earned its first-ever win against Maryland. The Spartans are now 1-10 against the Terps. MSU is just the second team to earn a Big Ten win against Maryland, along with Ohio State which has three wins against UMD. Maryland joined the league in 2015.
LEADING THE STAT LINE
Eleven different Spartans have led the team in scoring in the first 30 games of the season. Shay Colley has been the leader seven times. Sidney Cooks has led the team six times, while Branndais Agee and Taryn McCutcheon has led the team in scoring four times. Jenna Allen has been the top scorer three times. Taya Reimer, Kennedy Johnson, Mardrekia Cook, Lexi Gussert and Victoria Gaines have all led the team in scoring.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 30-51 against ranked teams, including 19-15 at home, 7-21 on the road and 4-15 on a neutral court. As a ranked team against fellow ranked team, MSU is 15-22 versus ranked teams. This season, MSU is 3-5 against ranked teams with a loss to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, and a defeat against Notre Dame, 90-59. MSU defeated No. 22 South Florida, 83-73, on Dec. 21 and upset No. 11 Maryland on the road, 82-68. On Jan. 23, MSU fell to No. 16 Michigan, 74-48, while falling to No. 12 OSU, 78-62 on Jan. 27. On Feb. 8, MSU fell to No. 10 Maryland, 76-68, while defeating No. 21/20 Michigan on Feb. 11, 66-61.
AROUND THE BIG TEN
Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is third in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 5.4 apg. She is behind Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell (6.8 apg) and Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (6.6 apg). McCutcheon tied a career high with 12 against Iowa on Feb. 1. Redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is tied for ninth in assists (4.2 spg). Colley is fourth in steals with 2.0 spg, while McCutcheon is tied for ninth with 1.7 spg.
MSU is tied for second in the league assists, averaging 17.8 apg. Iowa is first in the conference in assists with 21.6 apg. Michigan State is fourth in rebound margin (+5.9) and third in steals (8.8 spg). The Spartans are second in the B1G in defensive rebounding percentage (.707) and third in offensive rebounding percentage (.375).
DID YOU KNOW?
Michigan State has faced eight ranked teams, standing 3-5 in those contests. The Spartans have risen to the occasion with several players setting career highs against ranked foes. Against No. 2 Notre Dame, junior center Jenna Allen set a new career high with 28 points, the most on the team this season. Against No. 22 South Florida, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley added a career-high with 27 points. Finally, against No. 11 Maryland, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon set a new high with 25 points.
BREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOK
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon has cracked the top 15 in career assists after only 62 games in the Spartan uniform. McCutcheon has 327 career assists for an average of 5.3 assists per game. She passed Rene Haynes (2003-07) had 322 career assists. She is now just six assists from tying Donita Johnson (1997-01) for 13th. Johnson had 333 career assists.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Senior forward Taya Reimer reached a milestone, passing the 1,000-career point plateau against UConn on Nov. 25. Between her two seasons at Notre Dame and her two at Michigan State, she now has 1,181 career points. She is currently sixth in scoring for the Spartans, averaging 8.1 points per game.
FOUR SPARTANS EARN ALL-B1G HONORS
Michigan State had four players named to the All-Big Ten teams. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley and redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee all earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and the media. Junior center Jenna Allen garnered honorable mention honors from the media.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant’s first 11 seasons, the Spartans are 74-31 (70.5%) following a loss.
AROUND THE NATION
The Spartans are 23rd in the nation in assists with 534 and 14th in assists per game, averaging 17.8. Michigan State is 41st in the nation in rebounds per game (41.2) and 48th in rebound margin (+5.7). This week, Taryn McCutcheon is 54th in the nation in assists per game (5.4 apg).
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee became the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points with 10 points against No. 1 UConn on Nov. 25. Agee started the week by scoring a season-high 17 points in her hometown against Detroit, bringing her career point total to 991 and going over 1,000 against UConn.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 172 of their last 181 games (.950) when leading with five minutes left, including 123 of their last 133. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 207-15 (.932) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 15-3.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This was the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.
This season, Michigan State is still eighth in attendance, averaging 6,227 fans per game. They are first in the Big Ten ahead of Purdue (5,985) and Ohio State (5,596). The Spartans had a season-high 12,434 fans against Michigan in the annual Pink Game on Feb. 11.
LAST TIME OUT
In the longest game in Big Ten Tournament history, the No. 10-seeded Michigan State women’s basketball team dropped a four overtime heartbreaker to No. 7-seeded Indiana, 111-109 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Thursday in the first round. Michigan State had career highs from redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley who had 27 points and senior forward Taya Reimer, who added 22. Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon scored 21, while senior guard Branndais Agee (16) and redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines (13) both scored in double figures.
The Spartans welcome to their staff three former Michigan State players. Former Big Ten Player of the Year Kalisha Keane and All-Big Ten honorees Jasmine Hines and Annalise Pickrel are all graduate assistants with the Spartans this season.
MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).
Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior.
Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High SchoolDurden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship.
Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons.