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Michigan State women's basketball looks to fill vacancy left by injuries

November 10, 2021
<p>Junior forward Jayla James shoots the ball in the Spartan’s match against the Morehead State Eagles at the Breslin Center on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. </p>

Junior forward Jayla James shoots the ball in the Spartan’s match against the Morehead State Eagles at the Breslin Center on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

Michigan State women’s basketball opened the season with a decisive victory over Morehead State 93-31. Tuesday’s game against the Eagles gave us a preview into how the team will look to replace senior forward Tory Ozment and junior forward Julia Ayrault who are both out for the season with injuries. 

Graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar, freshman guard Matilda Ekh and junior guard Moira Joiner all rotated at the power forward position, looking to fill the gap left by the veteran players. The group ended the night with a combined 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Ekh and Joiner also contributed two three-pointers each to the 17 three-pointers hit by the Spartans, breaking a school record and establishing them as a three point team early in the season.

Despite not being able to play, Ozment and Ayrault have taken up coaching their teammates who are stepping up to take their places. 

“Obviously it’s been a bummer to have Julia and Tory out but I think that they’ve been doing a really good job of staying positive with the team and making sure that they talk to us on what they see, so they’ve been really helpful with Mo and I at the four position especially me because I’m new here,” Farquhar said. 

“In terms of how we played tonight, I think we did a really good job sharing the ball. Obviously Mo and I are undersized at the position but I think we stood our ground which I thought was really good,” she continued. 

The record three-pointers also helped Farquhar step into her new position.

“I think it makes my job easier," Farquhar said. “Obviously I didn’t have to rebound as much as I usually would have had to, so that was fun. I think that it’s really exciting to see that a lot of our points were off of assists. I think that speaks a lot of the characters we have on our team."

Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant liked what she saw from her three players.

“I think they (Joiner and Ekh) did a good job, and then Tamara, we bring Tamara in who’s a little bit different," Merchant said. "She’s a great defender, a great rebounder, a great cutter, she has a high IQ for the game, plays extremely hard, so we sub her in we become a different team."

Merchant also mentioned that she liked the versatility of this team, something that comes in handy with two veterans out for the season. She also complimented Ekh’s versatility personally and her contribution to the team.

“She could be the 1, 2, 3, 4 for us and she’s really good at understanding the game from that perspective,” Merchant said.

As for who will be in the rotation at the power forward spot going into the season, only time will tell.

“I think that four spot will be something that we just gotta continue to work with and evolve,” Merchant said. 

Joiner, Ekh and Farquhar however, have made convincing campaigns for themselves with impressive performances in their season opener.

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