Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Moira Joiner reaches elite milestone, Ozment and Hallock net career-highs in win over Purdue

January 24, 2024
<p>Michigan State Women’s Basketball team takes on Purdue at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Jan. 24, 2024. The Spartans offer Ozment a helping hand after a foul play.</p>

Michigan State Women’s Basketball team takes on Purdue at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Jan. 24, 2024. The Spartans offer Ozment a helping hand after a foul play.

Graduate guard Moira Joiner entered the game just five points away from a feat that only 29 other Spartans have reached during their time in the women's basketball program. Although nothing is guaranteed in sports, this one was just about guaranteed heading into this matchup. Everyone, including the coaches, knew it. 

Joiner finally reached the 1,000-point mark in her fifth year with the Spartans, and with the season that she has been having, it was destined to happen sooner than later. It not only happened sooner than some may have imagined, but it also happened in a season where she's been needed more than ever. 

She knocked down the first two of the five points needed with a euro-step layup to start the scoring for the Spartans in their dominant 97-70 win against the Boilermakers, and before you knew it, she had the ball in her hand again at the three-point line. Joiner lined it up and sank it with ease to reach an elite milestone, and for a moment, everyone inside the Breslin rose to their feet and clapped to congratulate the team leader. 

So far this season, Joiner has been on fire, averaging 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists, which are all significant jumps from her averages last season. Joiner has also been shooting it at a high rate from behind the three-point line this season, which has been a clear contributor to hitting the 1,000-point mark. Entering the game against Purdue, Joiner had a total of 48 out of 120 threes made on the season, and she added two more by the end of the night.

Joiner would say that it is a bit "ironic" and "surreal" that she has reached the 1,000-point mark granted that over the year she has continued to talk about and prove the fact that she is a defensive-minded player who just taps into the offensive role when needed.

Not only does Joiner feel this way about her defensive and offensive roles, but also head coach Robyn Fralick also considers Joiner as a defense-first kind of guard.

"As impressive as 1,000 points is, I think she's been one of the best defenders in the league," Fralick said. "We typically put her on a tough matchup every night and she can absolutely own the matchup."

By halftime, Fralick must have had that same idea when she decided to have Joiner take on the role of guarding graduate guard Abbey Ellis after she got hot in the first quarter, scoring 14 points for Purdue. 

However, the points did not come as easy once Joiner was switched into the role of guarding Ellis, as she was completely shut out in the third quarter because of Joiner's physical defense.

The fourth quarter was just the same, as Joiner and a bit of Theryn Hallock continued to lock down Ellis and held her to another quarter with zero points; she did not score a single point in the second half. 

Joiner once again showed that she is, in fact, a defensive player who can pick up the offensive roles when needed tonight against the Boilermakers as she finished with 14 points on 6/11 from the field with two three-pointers. Joiner also finished with four rebounds, two assists and a block.

While Joiner's accomplishment was the highlight of the night, graduate guard/forward Tory Ozment had a huge night of her own as she finished with a career-high 23 points, scoring 15 of those points in the third quarter alone. However, even she was amazed at what Joiner was able to accomplish tonight. 

"I mean, I'm not surprised she's hit a thousand points; she's one of the hardest workers," Ozment said. "I've played with her for five years now. She's dynamic, she plays hard, she plays on both ends of the court, so I am super proud of her."

After the game, coach Fralick praised Joiner for her accomplishment and spoke about how she is proud to have had this season with the guard. 

"I just feel really grateful that I've gotten a year to coach her," Fralick said. "She's a kid that you feel lucky to coach, she’s an everyday kid, she's an every possession kid, she's had all kinds of peaks and valleys through her career, and she shows up and she keeps working. You don't score a thousand points on accident."

While this milestone is one solely for Joiner, she knows that she could not have made it here without the support of her former and current teammates.

"Well, I definitely wouldn't be scoring it if they didn't pass," Joiner said. "But I am grateful for my teammates, you know, like in the past and now. I think about Nia Clouden and Taryn McCutcheon like past point guards that have really trusted me in my underclassmen years."

The point that Joiner was trying to convey of teammate support showed up tonight, as this win was clearly a team effort and not solely because of one person on the team. The Spartans displayed their depth in the second half with the performance of Ozment and Hallock. 

Hallock took off right where Ozment finished off in the fourth quarter and netted a career-high of her own. She finished with 24 points in the same fashion as Ozment, scoring 16 of her 24 in the fourth quarter alone. 

Looking ahead, the Spartans will quickly move on to the next game as they prepare to play in potentially the biggest game of the season for the team, in the first of two rivalry games against the University of Michigan. 

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The Spartans will play the first game against Michigan in East Lansing, with tip-off for that game at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27. The game will also feature Alumni Day which Fralick is very excited to be a part of for the first time. The game between the Spartans and the Wolverines will be streamed on Big Ten Plus. 

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