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ETSU women going for gold against Michigan State

Joe Avento • Updated Dec 15, 2017 at 4:38 PM

Michigan State’s women’s basketball team is coming to Brooks Gym on Saturday, and East Tennessee State coach Brittney Ezell is hoping the crowd in the old building can make it tough for the visitors from the Big Ten Conference.

“We’re having a ‘Gold Out,’ ” Ezell said. “We’re hoping to pack Brooks the way we did against Cincinnati. We’re encouraging people to get there early, be loud and wear their gold.”

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

The Bucs are 3-0 at home and come in 6-6 after a loss at North Carolina State on Thursday night. Among their home victims was Cincinnati.

Friend vs. friend

The meeting with the Spartans came about when Ezell called Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant, whom she has known for a number of years. ETSU will return the game in East Lansing, Michigan, next season.

“Suzy Merchant and I are really good friends,” Ezell said. “She’s been a mentor. I can call her, ask her things. She’s been wonderful to me. We were wanting to get another big game down here. She runs a great program and is a quality person, somebody I’m lucky enough to call a friend.”

Scouting the Spartans

Michigan State is 6-3 and has lost three of its last five games, including setbacks to No. 1 UConn and No. 2 Notre Dame.

“They’re quality, I don’t know any other way to put it,” Ezell said. “They’re really big. She’s had three or four kids drafted into the WNBA.”

Freshman Sidney Cooks, a 6-foot-4 forward, led the Spartans in their last outing, an 82-38 victory over Rhode Island, with 17 points. Cooks assumed the team scoring lead at 10.8 points per game. Branndais Agee, a 6-foot senior, averages 10.1. Taya Reimer, a 6-foot-4 forward who started her collegiate career at Notre Dame, averages 9.7. She played in two national championship games while at Notre Dame.

A look at the Bucs

ETSU is led by Tianna Tarter, who averages 17.2 points per game. Freshman guard Erica Haynes-Overton is averaging 13.8 points.

The Bucs’ fate might be determined by their inside players. Britney Snowden, a 6-foot junior, is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.1 per game. She also averages 7.6 points.

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