CMU women’s basketball loses to MSU

Freshman guard Bridget Utberg brings the ball up the court during a game against Michigan State, Saturday, Nov. 19 in McGuirk Arena.

After producing a 12-2 scoring run to put itself ahead of Michigan State, Central Michigan women’s basketball took a 34-31 lead in the second quarter on Saturday in McGuirk Arena. 

However, the Spartans outscored the Chippewas 44-20 in the second half securing an 84-54 win,  and handing CMU its fourth-straight loss to start the season 0-4.

“We did take a huge step in the right direction,” said head coach Heather Oesterle. “I told them, we just got to figure out the end of the second quarter and into the third, because that's where both Indiana State and Michigan State separated themselves from us. We got to figure out that little time right there that we can finish the last two minutes of the first half really strong and come out with some fire in the third.” 

The Spartans full court press caused issues for the Chippewas leading to turnovers. CMU committed 26 turnovers compared to 11 of MSU. 

“We're trying to keep it under 15 (turnovers),” Oestrele said. “Most teams they played have had 30 plus turnovers. It's a combination of our young guards that haven't seen that kind of pressure. I thought at the beginning of the game, we were really sharp. We were coming to the ball, (and) pass faking, we were throwing over the top of their press, and then I thought we got sloppy, we got tired. And they took advantage of us.” 

Freshman Sydney Harris led the way for CMU putting up 11 points along with five rebounds and two steals. 

Another newcomer for the Chippewas, freshman guard Bridget Utberg added 10 points and one assist, shooting two of five behind the arc. 

After a slow start to the first half, junior center Rochelle Norris found her touch to end the game with 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks. 

“This is the first time Rochelle’s played against a player of her size,” Oestrele said. “And she was able to score in there. And I was really proud of her because this is what, two to three games back after a two-year break.” 

The Chippewas took the 14-12 lead to begin the first quarter as Harris went three of five from the field. Following a timeout, the Spartans hit a three-pointer, tying it at 15. MSU took the small 21-20 lead to end the first quarter. 

The Spartans took a 29-22 lead early in the second quarter. However, the Chippewas came right back with a 12-2 run aided by an Utberg three-pointer to give them the lead. Tied with one minute to go in the quarter, MSU buried back-to-back three-pointers to take the 40-34 lead into halftime. 

“I definitely thought the first half we stuck to the game plan,” Oesterle said. “We were playing with a lot of urgency. We were getting the ball inside and outside, and our zone looked pretty good for the most part today. Just those threes at the end of the half and the threes in the beginning of the third really hurt us.” 

It was all Spartans to begin the second half as they took their first double-digit lead. Norris secured the first six points in the third for the Chippewas to help keep them in the game. However, MSU outscored CMU 26-8 to take the 66-42 lead. 

The Chippewas were unable to get anything going in the fourth as the Spartans outscored them 18-12 in the quarter, and grabbed their sixth-straight win to begin the season.

“This is a really coachable team,” Oesterle said. “I thought the first three games and we really learned the hard way. We were jacking up threes without a post touching the ball. And for the first time I felt okay, they understand now. And they're willing to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful. We talked a lot about ‘we over me’ because we thought that okay when things were getting tough, everybody just tried to do that themselves. And I didn't think that was the case today.” 

The Chippewas will head to Cancun, Mexico to face off against West Virginia on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.