The Michigan State women’s basketball team has had a blazing hot start to the season during their four-game homestead inside the Breslin Center. In their final game of the homestead, the Spartans added another strong performance on both sides of the basketball.
The Spartans shot an impressive 63.6% from the field and 47.1% from three, and on the other side forced 25 turnovers with 16 steals while only allowing their opponents to shoot 27.9% from the field to remain undefeated at home.
With the absence of junior forward Isaline Alexander, who was seen in a boot inside the arena, MSU decided to start a "small ball" lineup and start four guards and one forward. This ultimately worked out tremendously for the Spartans as they continued to use their speed to be one step ahead of the Aces.
Graduate guard Julia Ayrault got things going from the jump, as she won the tip for the Spartans and then immediately scored back-to-back buckets giving the team an early 4-0 start.
Making a defensive statement has been a goal of head coach Robyn Fralick’s game plan for the Spartans, and the team continues to show their commitment to the plan. Within the first five minutes of play, the Spartans forced four turnovers, three steals, one charge and scored eight straight points off of those turnovers.
The Aces, after having a slow start on both sides of the court, switched to a full-court press forcing the Spartans to make quicker decisions. Three quick turnovers later and the Spartan offense slowed. However, the Aces were still in search of some successful offense against the tough Spartan defense.
Both the Aces and the Spartans would go scoreless for nearly four minutes, but just when it seemed like neither team could find the bottom of the net, the Spartans went on a 6-0 run in a matter of 40 seconds to finish the quarter off with a 16 point lead.
Thirty seconds into the second quarter, MSU had forced two more turnovers on the Aces to put them at 10 turnovers early on. Sophomore guard Abbey Kimball took advantage of one of the turnovers with a smooth reverse layup.
The Ace’s offense continued to struggle deeper in the second quarter after the Spartans forced another three turnovers, resulting in zero scoring opportunities for the Aces.
It wasn’t until just under seven minutes left that the Aces got their first basket of the quarter, but they would still remain at just six points. After sophomore guard Kynidi Mason Striverson scored the sixth point for the Aces, sophomore guard Theryn Hallock hit the floor holding her face. After the play, it was clear she had been struck in the face and the officials went to review the play.
After a few moments, the officials decided to call an unintentional foul on Striverson and to leave it at that.
The rest of the second quarter fared much the same for both teams as MSU continued to have a strong showing on both sides of the ball, and Evansville continued to try and find some successful offense and an answer for the Spartans on defense.
However, they never really found either.
Their offense did prove to be better flowing in the second, but they still found themselves in a deep hole finishing the second quarter. This hole was thanks to the 31-point quarter from the Spartans led by a 12-point half by junior guard DeeDee Hagemann.
The Spartans finished the quarter a perfect 11-11 from the field and 8-8 from the free-throw line to secure a comfortable 51-20 score at halftime as both teams headed for the locker rooms.
MSU came flying out of the gate once again in the third quarter showing off their multitude of scorers, as four different spartans contributed to a 9-0 run in the first two minutes of the third.
In a scary play later in the third quarter, senior guard Gabby Elliot received a pass on a wide-open transition opportunity, but unfortunately an awkward landing after catching the pass resulted in Elliot being taken to the locker room for further assessment.
The Spartans, already up big, really began to pull away in the third quarter after retaining possession of the ball for most of the third as they went on to score 29 points in another dominating quarter for both the offense and defense.
With a comfortable lead and a whole fourth quarter left of play, Fralick decided to work with some of the newer faces for an extended period. Freshman center Mary Meng and freshman guard Bree Robinson both saw extended minutes in the fourth and it benefited both of them.
Offensively, both players were able to get in tune with the rest of the team as the Spartans looked to find opportunity for Meng multiple times down low. Robinson also found herself running point for most of the fourth, and she hit her first three-pointer of the season as the team celebrated from the bench.
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The Aces never gave up and continued to fight until the very end, but the great play from the Spartans early on would prove to be too much for the Aces to come back from. MSU remains undefeated both on the season and inside the Breslin during its homestead after a 105-49 victory.
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