Shorthanded Michigan State women's basketball fends off Nebraska

·2 min read
Michigan State's Nia Clouden moves with the ball against Notre Dame during the second quarter on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Nia Clouden moves with the ball against Notre Dame during the second quarter on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

A season that has included numerous tough breaks for the Michigan State women's basketball team featured a few more Thursday.

The Spartans found a way to overcome a limited roster to pick up a Big Ten victory.

Nia Clouden scored a game-high 32 points while leading MSU to a 72-69 win over previously unbeaten Nebraska at Breslin Center.

The Spartans (8-6, 2-1) picked up the win despite having limited backcourt depth with DeeDee Hagemann and Laurel Jacqmain out due to COVID protocols and Moira Joiner still out with concussion symptoms.

Clouden hit a big jumper in the final 30 second and Matilka Ekh split a pair of free throws with 19.0 seconds remaining to help the Spartans hang on. Nebraska (12-1, 1-1) missed a pair of potential tying 3s on its final possession.

"We had a team full of post players and Nia and Matilda and then Jayla (James) – she kind of plays both sports for us," MSU coach Suzy Merchant said. "I don’t know – if you understand what we had to do the last day and a half. We put in a three-man game in the middle of the floor – it affected everything not to have DeeDee, (Jacqmain) and Mo (Joiner) is not back yet. You are down six perimeter players — that’s a lot. One or two is bad, but six people? I’m really proud. It was less about Nebraska. I just wanted to see us be gritty and fight and not give in and find a way to scratch and claw and do the best we could. I thought they did that."

Clouden, the reigning Big Ten player of the week, had her ninth game with at least 20 points while being one of four players in double figures for MSU. She made 15 of 17 shots from the free-throw line.

Ekh added 12 points, while Taiyier Parks had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans, who led by as much as 13. Alisia Smith (Waverly) had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Sam Haiby had 19 points to lead Nebraska, which entered Thursday ranked No. 7 in the NCAA's NET rankings and one of five unbeaten teams in the nation.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Michigan State women's basketball hands Nebraska first loss

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