Michigan State women’s basketball looks to continue their 4-0 start when they embark on their first road trip of the season to the Empire State. The Spartans will take on the Fordham Rams Sunday in the Bronx before traveling to Brooklyn Heights to play the St. Francis College Terriers on Tuesday to close out their New York expedition. Both games will be played at 2 p.m.
The Spartans are coming off a triple-digit win against Bryant that gave Head Coach Suzy Merchant her 300th career win at MSU. Senior guard Nia Clouden and junior guard Alyza Winston have led the way thus far with help from freshman guard DeeDee Hagemann who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week last week.
MSU has only faced off against Fordham once, a meeting which they lost, in 1979. This season the Rams are 3-1 coming off a tough loss against Notre Dame. If the Spartans want to keep their winning streak alive they will need to improve their defense and find a way to shut down senior guard Asiah Dingle who leads the team with 20 pointers per game.
The Terriers are 1-3 this season, their sole win coming against Rider on Saturday. They’ve been led by sophomore forward Fruzsina Horvath who has averaged 16 points per game in their young season. Both teams look to prove the strength of MSU’s defense and find points of weakness, something Merchant has emphasized in all four games this season.
While reflecting on her 300th win against Bryant, Merchant focused on what her team needed to accomplish during the road trip to continue their winning streak.
“I didn’t really like our competitiveness tonight. I think we were a little flat,” Merchant said. “Rebounding is still gonna be an issue, we gotta continue to get better there. Defensively I think we’re a little behind there, but we need all of our players.”
MSU has already been playing shorthanded with preseason injuries to senior forward Tory Ozment and junior forward Julia Ayrault who are out for the season. The Spartans were also without junior guard Moira Joiner against Bryant who was out due to concussion protocol and Hagemann who was out against Valparaiso due to illness. Merchant emphasized the importance of having her “core eight” players ready to go for every game to put them in a position to win.
Stepping up in the absence of injured players has been graduate student forward Tamara Farquhar, who has been accounting for most of MSU’s rebounds this season, averaging 6.3 per game. Going into the road trip she agrees that the team needs to play better defensively.
“I think the biggest thing is communicating and one on one accountability,” Farqhuar said. “I think that’s definitely something we need to work on, but if we all have it in ourselves it’s just a matter of finding it and utilizing it when we’re on the court.”
After their first pair of road games in New York, the Spartans will travel back to the mitten state to take on Oakland in Rochester Friday, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m.
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