Freshman guard Celeste Edwards (5) blocks a shot during a game against Michigan State University, Sunday, Nov. 17, in East Lansing, Mich. MSU won 96-89 to drop the University of Dayton womenÕs basketball team out of the Associated PressÕ top 25. (COURTESY OF MATTHEW MITCHELL/MSU ATHLETICS)
By: Nathan Vicar – Staff Writer
Last year the University of Dayton women’s basketball team hosted Michigan State University Dec. 8, 2012, at UD Arena and won 60-53.
This year ended differently.
In a battle of two top-25 teams, UD lost to Michigan State in overtime 96-89 Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., dropping to 2-2 for the season.
The loss matches Dayton’s regular season loss total from all of last season.
Head coach Jim Jabir said this year’s Michigan State team was compariable to last year’s.
“Michigan State is a very well coached team,” Jabir said. “Their freshman [guard] Ariel Powers was the key to their team tonight.”
The loss came on the heels of a comeback victory against the University of Akron Friday, Nov. 15, at UD Arena in the team’s home opener.
Dayton was down 45-41 at halftime Friday before storming back and winning 94-80. Senior center Cassie Sant had a game-high 24 points. In addition, junior forward Ally Malott recorded her first double-double of the season in scoring 16 points and having 10 assists.
On Sunday, UD trailed MSU 24-23 going into halftime, shooting 18.8 percent from the floor in the first half.
Michigan State led by 15 with 16:02 left in regulation at 45-30. The Flyers made a comeback, scoring 55 points in the
second half to tie the game at the end of regulation at 78.
In the final seven minutes of regulation, there were eight lead changes and the game was tied eight times. Dayton had a chance to win in regulation, but Sant’s shot came up short at the buzzer.
In overtime, the comeback came up short as well. MSU outscored UD 18-11 to end the game.
Powers was 10-of-19 from the field to lead MSU, scoring 24 points to go with five assists and five steals.
“We were slowly chipping away at Michigan State near the end after we were down,” Sant said. “Having [junior guard Andrea Hoover] foul out was hard for us.”
Hoover led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, while Mallot recorded her second consecutive double-double of the season with 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Amber Deane also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists, and also added a career-high five assists.
Sant said it felt like a heartbreaking loss for the team, as they believed momentum was on their side heading into overtime.
“This loss stings a little bit but it will fuel us for the next game,” Sant said. “We need to close down better on defense. We are letting players score way above their average. We need to do a better job of shutting people down.”
Three players from Michigan State scored over 20 points.
Jabir said turnovers were the key to the loss. The Flyers had 21 for the game, and Michigan State gained 27 points from those turnovers.
In addition, Michigan State’s bench outscored Dayton’s 27-14.
“We’ve got to improve on defense in general and moving the ball around,” Jabir said. “We made poor decisions which led to turnovers. It’s still early in the season. It’s not a question of character or heart, we need better shot selection and find ways to get better.”
Michigan State moved down to No. 21 in the latest Associated Press top 25 rankings released Monday, Nov. 18, while
Dayton dropped down into the receiving votes section, two spots out of a top 25 spot.
The Flyers next play at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Nov. 24, at 3 p.m.