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WBB Recap: Michigan State - A Tale of Two Halves

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It was the worst of halves, it was the best of halves.

Sorry, but this photo had to be used.
Sorry, but this photo had to be used.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I wasn't able to watch as much as I would have liked of this game because I felt I could only be so rude at family Christmas watching videos from my phone. However, from what I was able to watch, along with seeing the half time and end-of-games statistics, I feel that no better description for this game than the introduction to Dickens' classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

In the first half, the Lady Bears were only shooting 34.3% in the paint and 16.7% from outside the arc. Michigan State, on the other hand, couldn't miss, shooting 56.7% from the paint and 42.9% from behind the arc. From what I was able to watch, I attribute this poor performance for the Lady Bears on two things. First, Michigan State was playing solid defense. It seemed like every shot had a Spartan nearby. Second, it seemed like we couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. There were layups that were overpowered and bouncing away. Outside shots were clanging off the rim. The basket seemed to have some sort of magical curse on it.

At the half two things occurred. First, the teams switched sides, which means Michigan State got the accursed rim. Second, the coaches are given an opportunity to discuss needed changes with their players and give, shall we say, words of encouragement. I would not have wanted to be in that locker room at half, being down by 13 after having been down by 3 the previous day. However, whatever Coach Mulkey said to the players, it seemed to have worked.

This team came out and looked like a different team. First, they shifted from their traditional man coverage to a zone. In the words of Kim, "I don't like zone, because I'm not a good teacher of zone. I'm not stupid and hard-headed enough to not do it, though. We had to go to the zone when we couldn't stop them with our man. We were able to press and create havoc." The shift to zone seemed to be unexpected by the Spartans and they were never able to find a rhythm in the second half. Their field goal percentage dropped to 29.2% and their three-point shooting percentage fell to 16.7%. Second, Imani Wright found her groove. After having made no bucket in 13 minutes of play, she came out and scored 18 points, including four treys, in the second half. If there was ever an appropriate time to insert a gif from NBA Jam's "[S]he's on fire", now would be the time.

To say the second half was magical might be justified. Baylor managed to score 51 points and held Michigan State to only 19. To put that into some perspective, Baylor outscored Michigan State by nearly 2.7 times. Baylor hasn't had that large a point differential in a single game this year. The closest was the exhibition game against Tarleton State at just under 2.6. As stressful as the first half was, the second half was even more fun to watch. These ladies played with purpose, poise, and a desire to win, and it gives me great hope going into conference play.