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Spartans Take on No. 3/2 Notre Dame on the Road Wednesday

Dec. 5, 2017

Michigan State (5-2, 0-0 B1G) at 3/2 Notre Dame (7-1, 0-0 ACC)
 Date Wednesday, Dec. 6
 Time 7 p.m. ET
 Location South Bend, Ind. | Joyce Center
 Tickets Click To Purchase
 Television ESPN3
 Radio Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240
 Game Notes Michigan State  Notre Dame
 Statistics  Michigan State | Notre Dame
 Internet Coverage Live Stats
 Social Media @MSU_WBasketball   |  Facebook  |   Instagram 

For the third time in four seasons, Michigan State women’s basketball will take on Notre Dame. This season, MSU will travel to South Bend to take on No. 3/2 Notre Dame at the Joyce Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on the ACC Network Extra. The Fighting Irish captured meetings in East Lansing in both 2014 and 2016. Senior forward Taya Reimer will be taking on her former squad for the second-straight season.

• Six different Spartans have led the team in scoring through the first seven games of the season. Branndais Agee, Sidney Cooks, Mardrekia Cook, Taya Reimer, Kennedy Johnson and Taryn McCutcheon have led Michigan State in points score in at least one game this year. Reimer’s 20 points against Oakland is the top individual performance this season.

• Michigan State has three players from the state of Indiana, who will be returning home for the first time this season. Junior Jenna Allen hails from Bedford, Indiana, while redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines is from Merrillville. Senior Taya Reimer hails from Fishers, Indiana.

• The Spartans have had four different starting lineups this season. Only redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley and sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon have started all seven games. Redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee and junior forward Jenna Allen have both started five of seven games this year.

• The Spartans are first in the Big Ten in rebound margin (+14.6). Iowa is second with a rebound margin of +11.9. Overall this season, Michigan State has 338 (48.3 rpg) total rebounds, while allowing only 236 (33.7 rpg).

In the first eight games of the season, the Spartans will have taken on both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. MSU has already faced top-ranked UConn and will take on No. 2 Notre Dame on Dec. 6. Last season, Michigan State faced both No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Maryland in one season. The Spartans have never faced the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in the same season.

The series between Michigan State and Notre Dame is knotted up a 9-9. Last season, the Irish stopped the Spartans 79-61 in East Lansing. MSU dominated the series early on, winning the first four meetings between 1975-1984. Notre Dame has won the last five meetings, dating back to 2008. The Spartans and the Irish will have met three times in the last four seasons.

Spartans senior Taya Reimer will meet her former team for the second time this season. Reimer earned her undergraduate degree from Notre Dame in May of 2016 before becoming a Spartan.

Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season on Dec. 3, falling to No. 1 UConn, 80-71, on the road. Overall, Notre Dame is 7-1 with wins over South Carolina and Oregon State. The Fighting Irish have faced on Big Ten team, stopping No. 21/24 Michigan, 83-63, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last week.

Notre Dame is averaging 83.8 points per game, while allowing only 67.1. They are solid on the boards, averaging 45.5 rpg, including 18.0 offensive rebounds per game.

Arike Ogunbowale leads the team in scoring, averaging 20/.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. The is a very familiar face starting for the Irish in Jessica Shepard, a former Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Nebraska. Shepard is third in scoring with 12.6 points and 8.8 boards per game. Jackie Young is second in scoring with 15.9 ppg.

LAST TIME VS. NOTRE DAME - Dec. 20, 2016
Brianna Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, leading No. 2 Notre Dame to a 79-61 win over Michigan State on Dec. 20, 2016.

The Spartans (10-3) had won four straight since getting beat by No. 19 Syracuse. The Fighting Irish (11-1) have won three straight since losing to top-ranked UConn.

Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but didn’t get much help from her teammates.

Michigan State is 26-29 all-time against teams from the ACC. The 18 games that MSU and Notre Dame have played is the most against any current ACC school. Notre Dame is the second ACC team that MSU has played this season, losing to Miami, 67-57, last week at the B1G/ACC Challenge.

Michigan State played in the 11th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, falling to Miami, 67-57. The ACC captured this year’s Challenge title by a 10-4 count. Last season, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue registered wins for the Big Ten. Michigan State lost to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last season, 75-64. Overall, MSU is 5-6 in the Challenge.

In 2014, Michigan State came-from-behind to capture a 79-73 overtime win against Georgia Tech on Dec. 4. In 2015, Louisville came out fast and despite a second-half comeback by MSU, the Cardinals captured the win, 85-78. Last season, the Spartans traveled to No. 21 Syracuse, falling to the Orange in the Carrier Dome, 75-64.

This week’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge may have proved to be one of the most competitive in the series’ 11-year history, with 10 of the 14 games decided by 10 points or fewer, including four games decided by one point. What’s more, in eight of the 14 Challenge games, Big Ten schools either led or were tied in the fourth quarter.

B1G/ACC Challenge History
2017 - Miami 67, MSU 57
2016 - Syracuse 75, MSU 64
2015 - Louisville 85, MSU 78
2014 - MSU 79, Georgia Tech 73 (OT)
2013 - Florida State 60, MSU 58
2012 - MSU 68, N.C. State 51
2011 - Miami 76, MSU 60
2010 - MSU 72, Florida State 64
2009 - MSU 72, North Carolina 66
2008 - Georgia Tech 57, MSU 50
2007 - MSU 68, Clemson 51
Bold = home games

Michigan State celebrated Thanksgiving weekend at the PK80 Invitational in honor of Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. The Spartans attended a Nike event before watching the MSU men’s team take on DePaul on Thanksgiving day. Michigan State fell to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, on Saturday, Nov. 25 in Eugene at Matthew Knight Arena. In the other game, Oregon defeated Oklahoma.

Junior forward Jenna Allen returns to her home state of Indiana after one of her best performances in the Green and White uniform. Allen had her second career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in the win against Western Michigan on Dec. 3. She set a career high in points with 16 against Detroit on Nov. 21.

Michigan State has two players in the top 11 in the league in assists. Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is up to ninth with 4.6 assists per game. Redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is tied for 11th with Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty with 4.1 apg. Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell is first in the league in assists with 6.8 per game. Michigan State is second in the Big Ten and 16th in the NCAA in helpers with 19.1 assists per game. Iowa leads the league and the nation with 25.0 apg.

The Spartans are fourth in the nation in rebounds per game (48.3), while also standing fourth in offensive rebounds per game (20.0). MSU is also 16th in assist per game (19.1) and 23rd in steals per game (11.9).

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. She now has 1,004 career points in the Green and White. Agee is averaging 11.3 points through the first six games of the season, which is second on the team. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan to reach 1,000 points doing so on Nov. 27, 2015.

Through the first seven games of the season, freshman forward Sidney Cooks has lived up to expectations. Cooks is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points per game. She is also third on the team in rebounds with 5.1 rpg. Junior forward Jenna Allen leads the team in rebounding with 5.9 rpg.

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 162 of their last 168 games (.964) when leading with five minutes left, including 113 of their last 120. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 197-11 (.947) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 4-0.

Michigan State redshirt-senior Branndais Agee was named to the watch list for the inaugural Cheryl Miller Award, which will be awarded to the top small forward women’s basketball; it was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

She is one of five players from the Big Ten to be named to the watch list along with Indiana’s Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Brianna Fraser, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Wisconsin’s Cayla McMorris. Agee has already garnered preseason All-Big Ten honors by the coaches. Last season, Agee earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors along with fellow senior Taya Reimer and sophomore Taryn McCutcheon. During the 2016-17 season, Agee was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

The Spartans are 115-38 (75.2%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 55-10 (84.6%) in November, with six of the nine losses coming against top-10 opponents. The Spartans have won 29 of their last 33 in the month.

Despite losing Michigan State all-leading scorer Tori Jankoska, the Spartans have many pieces from last year’s team returning, including starters Branndais Agee, Taya Reimer, Taryn McCutcheon and Victoria Gaines. Over 66 percent of the Spartan offense is back, including four of the top five scorers.

Behind a double-double from junior forward Jenna Allen, Michigan State women’s basketball stopped in-state foe Western Michigan, 65-62, in a return to the Breslin Center.

The win halted a two-game losing streak for the Spartans, who improve to 5-2 this season. With the loss, Western Michigan slips to 4-5. The Broncos are coached by former MSU assistant coach Shane Clipfell, making a return to East Lansing. Former Spartan Cetera Washington is also an assistant coach for WMU.

Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee led the Spartans with 13 points and three rebounds off the bench, while senior forward Taya Reimer added 11 points. Allen collected her second career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 boards.

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.

All-time, the Spartans are now 31-15 in season openers, but 23-2 when the opener is in East Lansing. Coach Merchant is 8-3 in season openers at MSU, and has won 14 of her last 17, including her time at Eastern Michigan.

The Michigan State Athletics Department officially opened the Gilbert Pavilion and the Tom Izzo Hall of History on Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Breslin Center.

The project was funded by private donations, including large contributions from Dan & Jennifer Gilbert and from Bob & Julie Skandalaris, with the gifts designated to the Breslin Center addition.
The addition features the Tom Izzo Hall of History, the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, a new ticket box office, a championship display, a recruiting lounge, alumni locker room and interactive areas that enhance the fan experience for the more than 500,000 people attending events each year.

The Spartans welcome two freshmen this season in forward Sidney Cooks and guard Claire Hendrickson. Cooks is a McDonald’s All-American from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Hendrickson, a native of Wyoming, Michigan, will miss the 2017-18 season after tearing her ACL in the first practice of the season. After sitting out last season after transferring from South Carolina, the redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is able to take the court this season with the Spartans. She earned a gold medal this summer with the Canadian National Team at the FIBA Americas Women’s Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 13 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 54-4 (.931) against in-state rivals, including a 39-4 (.907) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 187-59 (.760) against other Michigan schools.

Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 27-47 against ranked teams, including 18-14 at home, 6-18 on the road and 3-15 on a neutral court. As a ranked team against fellow ranked team, MSU is 15-22 versus ranked teams. This season, MSU is 0-1 against ranked teams with a loss to No. 1 UConn, 96-62.

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 four times overall this season. MSU has won 110 of its last 120 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 127-17 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 4-0 when scoring at least 70.

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 is 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.

The Big Ten Conference released the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls, in addition to the 10-member preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday. Michigan State redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the coaches. Reigning Big Ten co-champion Ohio State, which was the No. 1 pick in both the coaches and the media poll. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in both polls.

Michigan State will return home to the Breslin Center for the third of five doubleheaders with the MSU men’s team. The Spartans will take on Rhode Island on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. The Michigan State men will face Southern Utah at 6 p.m. The Spartans will then hit the road again, taking on East Tennessee State on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

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. Last season, the Panthers captured their second-straight IAAM Championship. St. Frances also advanced to the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, falling in overtime. Clouden has also earned first-team Baltimore Sun honor in both 2016 and 2017.

Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High School. Durden 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. As a sophomore, she guided Buford to the AAAA Final Four, averaging 11.1 points and 3.5 assists per game.

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. She is a multi-sport athlete, who earned all-state honors in both basketball and volleyball. Belles will miss her senior year of high school after tearing her ACL over the summer.

Highlighting the Spartans’ ledger this season is 15 home games, including seven non-conference contests as well as eight Big Ten Conference match-ups.

Another focal showpiece of MSU’s 2017-18 schedule is playing in the inaugural PK80 Invitational to celebrate Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, where Michigan State will take on UConn at Matthew Knight Arena, hosted by the University of Oregon. The Michigan State men’s team will also be playing in the PK80 Invitational, with the men’s action being held in Portland.
Once again, the Big Ten will have a 16-game women’s basketball conference schedule format this season after all 14 teams played 18 games the previous two seasons. Michigan State will play in-state rival Michigan, along with Indiana and Maryland in home-and-home contests, while hosting Rutgers, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Spartans will play road games at Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.

The Last Meeting
Notre Dame79
Michigan State61
December 20, 2016
East Lansing, Mich.
MSU Women's Basketball Streak Ends in 79-61 Loss to No. 2 Notre Dame
Brianna Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, leading No. 2 Notre Dame to a 79-61 win over Michigan State on Tuesday night. The Spartans (10-3) had won four straight since getting beat by No. 19 Syracuse.



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