Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Co-captains Ayrault and Joiner lead team to victory over Maryland, even out Big Ten record at 2-2

January 9, 2024
<p>Graduate student guard Julia Ayrault (40) makes a layup against the University of Detroit Mercy at the Breslin Center on Nov. 16, 2023.</p>

Graduate student guard Julia Ayrault (40) makes a layup against the University of Detroit Mercy at the Breslin Center on Nov. 16, 2023.

The Michigan State women’s basketball team started off their fourth Big Ten conference game of the year in a slump, but they refused to give up in their nail-biting 74-69 win over Maryland to get their second conference win of the year

The Spartans were able to strike first, but after falling into a shooting slump early, they only scored 22 first-half points. However, the Spartans used a strong third-quarter push to regain control late in the second half as they defeated the Terrapins

A large part of the reason that the Spartans were able to regain control of the game, even after the Terrapins began to find an offensive groove that was similar to MSU’s playstyle, is because of the late performance of both co-captains Julia Ayrault and Moira Joiner

Ayrault and Joiner both have been constant contributors to the success that the team has seen so far this season. Both graduate students have built up their chemistry and confidence with each other through the five years they have spent together on the team, which has led to a constant flow of good performances throughout the season

Currently, Joiner leads the team in scoring and is 10th in Big Ten scoring with a total of 229 points on the season and an average of 15.9 points per game. Ayrault is nearing her record, and is 15th in scoring in the Big Ten with a total of 203 points throughout the season, as she is averaging 14.5 points per game

Both Ayrault and Joiner finished the game with 20 points, and they both scored 10 points each in the fourth quarter to help their team hold on to the late lead

After the game, head coach Robyn Fralick credited both players for being able to make shots when they were needed the most

“I thought they had some of the most critical baskets of the game for us,” Fralick said. “I’m really proud of them, proud of them for stepping up and proud of them for playing big in big moments.” 

Ayrault also finished the game with 10 rebounds and was a key player to the Spartan defense down-low. Fralick also talked about how essential Ayrault's play down-low has been for the Spartans

“She’s been dynamite on both sides, I mean a double-double tonight,” Fralick said. “Her rebounding is so important for us, as we all know we’ve been an undersized team through the season and her ability to defensive rebound has been critical.”

Ayrault’s co-captain also credited her performances on both sides of the ball after the game and how her transition to playing the center position had paid off.

“I’m really proud of [Ayrault],” Joiner said. “I think her making that transition to being our five you know, she was a little frustrated as anyone would be undersized and she really had to get the hang of it but she stuck with it, but she stuck with it and she put in the work and it's really paying off.”

For Joiner, her 20-point performance marks her 17th straight game with double digits including a few games from the last season.

Although Joiner has been on fire so far offensively, she still takes pride in not just being an offensive player, but a defensive player who will step up to the task when needed

Fralick agrees with Joiner on her ability to do well on both sides of the court and even went on to describe Joiner not as a defensive or offensive player but simply as a “winner.”

“Mo’s a winner, that’s the best way to describe her,” Fralick said. “She’s a winner so if it’s shutting down the other team's best player, if it’s tonight making timely, timely shots and good decisions, making clutch free-throws, she's a winner.”

The Spartans were able to even out their Big Ten record at 2-2 as they prepared to finish the season out with all in-conference games. Next up, the Spartans will face off away against Ohio State University on Sunday, Jan. 14 at 4 p.m. The game will be streamed on Big Ten Network

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