Grizzlies fall to Michigan State in the O’rena

Ally Racey

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The Oakland women’s basketball team played in-state rival Michigan State University Sunday, Dec. 13 during their blackout game at the O’rena.

Oakland fell 82-62 against the Spartans, now sitting at a 5-4 record.

Starting the game for Oakland was Elena Popkey, Nola Anderson, Taylor Gleason, Sinclair Russell, and Olivia Nash.

Head coach Jeff Tungate kept all five starters in for most of the game switching between Taylor Jones, Rio Dudgeon and Leah Somerfield.

Tungate explained that they could do different things with the lineups and media time outs because of the new quarter system.

“We kind of go with who’s playing well and we keep them in for long stretches of time and they don’t have to worry as much about subbing as we used to under the old system,” Tungate said.

“I’m really proud of our team and how hard we competed. Obviously you never like to lose but I think it’s something we can learn from and if we can play this way I think we can really have a great season.”

Senior Olivia Nash said once the team got a few games under their belt she hasn’t noticed much of a difference with the new system.

“It’s just playing basketball at the end of the day,” she said.

Last season Nash scored 17 points and recorded seven rebounds against Michigan State.  This time around she put up 14 points, three rebounds, and one assist.

“I think this game we just wanted to focus on defense and our game plan was to push them out and stop them. Coach told me to play like I had no fouls and that’s pretty much what I did,” Nash said.

Last week Nash scored 20 points for the second time this season.

She currently has 716 career rebounds needing only 11 to move past Heather Bateman for 10th all-time in program history.

Freshman guard and player of the game, Taylor Jones, recorded 14 points, two rebounds, and two assists against Michigan State. She also made a career-high eight of 10 free throws.

Jones said that she wanted to do all that they could to win and go hard on both ends of the court.

“I was just trying to take everything that they gave me and lead to attack as well as score,” she said.

The team is third in the conference in steals with Jones ranking ninth.

Jones expressed that playing at the college level is a much faster pace and more aggressive.

Along with Nash and Jones, Oakland had two other players in double figures.

Senior Elena Popkey recorded 12 points and red-shirt sophomore Taylor Gleason added 11 points.

Oakland won the points off turnovers battle 14-10 and had 20 points off the bench compared to 18 for Michigan State.

The Spartans have won the last four seasons against Oakland by an average of 22.5 points per game. The Golden Grizzlies last defeated the Spartans 76-57 back on Feb. 6, 1982.

The attendance of 1837 was the second highest of this season.

Oakland travels to the Windy City for a game at Chicago State on Dec. 19.