MSU women’s basketball inserted by No. 5 Iowa State at PK85, with No. 18 Oregon on deck

PORTLAND, Ore. – Watching her team on Thursday, Suzy Merchant thought of Nike founder Phil Knight’s talk with all the teams at this week’s PK85 tournaments named after him. He had spoken about how much he loved that sport taught life lessons and built character and the will to compete.

And looking out at the court as Michigan State played No. 5 Iowa State, she didn’t really see her team competing.

“I thought we played hard but we didn’t really compete. That’s a difference,’ Merchant said. “Anyone can play hard. Competition means hitting open shots, competition means getting that defensive rebound, competition means making your free throws. In my opinion, this team has to learn from that.”

“That” was an 80-49 loss to the Cyclones in the first round of the PK85 women’s four-team tournament, which also features No. 8 North Carolina and No. 18 Oregon — MSU’s next opponent — at 1 p.m. Sunday ET (on ESPN2).