Robyn Fralick's tenure as head coach started successfully as the Michigan State women’s basketball team was able to get a dominant 99-46 win in Fralick's first-ever match-up as a Spartan against the Davenport Panthers. The Spartans started their year off with a strong performance on both sides of the ball to kick off a long season.
The Spartans hit the floor of the Breslin for their first and only exhibition game of the 2023-2024 season. The Panthers won the tip-off and got the first points on the board after a quick layup from Panther junior center Lilee Gustafson.
The Spartans immediately answered and took the lead after graduate guard Moira Joiner hit her first three-pointer of the season. Junior guard Jocelyn Tate also got some quick points with a layup of her own to put the Spartans up three.
A scary play with only about a minute and 30 seconds of game played sent junior guard DeeDee Hagemann to the locker room to be assessed. Sophomore guard Theryn Hallock replaced Hagemann for the time being, and Hallock ended up having herself a game finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Junior forward Isaline Alexander immediately showed her defensive prowess as she continued to stop key paint points for the Panthers. Her defense began to create transition opportunities for the Spartans including a wide-open layup for Hallock.
Senior guard Gabby Elliot made a good impact for the Spartans off of the bench as well going two-for-two to start the game, including a quick steal and score before being subbed out after picking up two quick fouls.
The Spartans continued to find the basket early in the first quarter scoring 11 of their 23 shots. They also kept the Panthers at a distance with some good defense only allowing for seven total points and forcing 13 turnovers.
In the second quarter, Tate found herself resetting the ball at the top of the key, and as she drove right she found sophomore guard Abby Kimball for a 3-pointer as the Spartans continued to build the lead, 32-7.
The Spartans showed some true commitment and excitement when it came to their defense. After forcing the 19th Panther turnover of the game, the team was feeling good about their ability. Joiner and Tate celebrated with each other as coach Fralick smiled at her team’s defensive effort.
Joiner, who at this point had already scored 11 points, continued to give it her all in the first half — even after making a mistake here or there. After missing an open three, Joiner turned right around and stopped an offensive transition for the Panthers to hold on to the large MSU lead.
The Spartans did their homework on the Panthers, and it showed in the first half as Davenport struggled to get a single play off without an MSU player somehow breaking up the play with a steal, block or contested shot.
Eight different Spartans contributed to the 46-10 score at halftime as they set the tone for the game.
Hagemann made her return to the court to start the third quarter after missing the majority of the first quarter and the entirety of the second. She seemed to look uninjured after being a bit shaken up in the first, and she finished the game with seven points and six assists.
The defensive intensity from the Spartans continued through the third quarter as they came out in a full-court press to start the half. Their defense immediately forced three more turnovers and picked up two more steals halfway through the third.
Joiner once again found herself in the corner to receive the pass from her driving teammate, this time Hagemann, and she drained another three-pointer to give MSU a 57-12 lead. Joiner finished with a game-high 18 points along with a strong showing on defense to lead her squad.
The Panthers began to find a groove late in the third quarter scoring a total of 15, the most they scored in all three quarters so far.
They also began to step up their defense as they began to contest more shots and force the Spartans to the perimeter, but after a few three-pointers from Kimball, there was simply no option for a comeback.
The Spartans fully controlled their first game under Fralick to come away with a 99-46 exhibition victory over Davenport. MSU will be back in action for the season Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. against Oakland University at the Breslin Center.
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