Michigan State’s women’s basketball team entered the season with significant expectations, and substantial depth.
Week by week, as the depth deteriorated with one injury after another — the head coach even joked about adding herself to the roster — expectations fell by the wayside, too.
But the Spartans at least will get a chance to finish the season on a positive note, earning a bid into the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, as announced Monday night.
Michigan State will get a home game, set for 7 p.m. Thursday against Cincinnati at Breslin Center.
The Spartans started the season 14-5 and 4-2 in the Big Ten, before the injuries started piling up — they played Michigan with no available guards on Jan. 23, and lost, 74-48. That was the second of six consecutive losses and Michigan State finished the season 17-13 and 7-9 in the Big Ten, capped by a 111-109, four-overtime loss to Indiana in the conference tournament.
Michigan State did get healthy toward the end of the season, and even beat NCAA Tournament-bound Michigan, 66-61, on Feb. 11.
And now it has a chance to make a little postseason noise, just as Michigan did a year ago in winning the WNIT — a fine run, providing absolute momentum heading into this season.
Suzy Merchant is in her 11th year as Michigan State’s head coach, and has guided the team to a postseason appearance in all but one of those seasons. This is her second WNIT appearance, and her first since her first year on the job in 2007-08. Every other year, she’s been to the NCAA Tournament, with the exception of 2014-15.
Michigan State is led by redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley (11.7 points per game) and redshirt senior guard Branndais Agee (10.5 ppg, 6.1 rebounds per game), an ex-Detroit Cass Tech star.
Cincinnati was 19-12, 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. Sophomore guard Antoinette Miller, a former Southfield-Lathrup star, averaged 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds this season.
From the Big Ten, Indiana, Penn State and Purdue also made the WNIT field.