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Preview: MSU women's basketball returns to the Breslin to play Boilermakers in first of back-to-back home games

January 23, 2024
Michigan State University women’s basketball team stands together for the alma mater after losing to Nebraska at the Breslin Center on Dec. 9, 2023. The Spartans lost to the Cornhuskers 74-80.
Michigan State University women’s basketball team stands together for the alma mater after losing to Nebraska at the Breslin Center on Dec. 9, 2023. The Spartans lost to the Cornhuskers 74-80.

The Michigan State women’s basketball team has once again found itself trying to come back from behind in the conference standings after dropping a Big Ten game to the Golder Gophers in Minneapolis. The loss to the Gophers was a bit staggering and head coach Robyn Fralick expressed her disappointment in the second-half performance and how they need to finish stronger in the future. 

Lucky for the Spartans, the team finally gets a break from its “hectic” schedule and will return to East Lansing and have two home games this week. Michigan State will first play the Purdue Boilermakers on Wednesday, Jan. 24. 

This Big Ten matchup will once again be an opportunity for the Spartans to get back to the .500 mark within the conference. This has become a bit of a pattern for the Spartans, but at no fault of their own as the Big Ten conference is one of the toughest there is, and the rest of their schedule is filled with tough matchups like they've seen in recent weeks.

Regardless for Fralick, the tough matchups and the even tougher schedule full of away games should not hinder the performance of the Spartans. Fralick hopes that this Wednesday against the Boilermakers, Michigan State will get better at performing with these tough factors.

“I think wherever you play, you got to be able to play at a high level,” Fralick said after the loss on Saturday. “We’ve got to regroup, learn and we’ll be excited to be at home on Wednesday.” 

This matchup between Purdue and Michigan State will be the 44th matchup between the two teams since Jan. 15, 1999, and while this will be a chance for MSU to even its Big Ten record, it will also be a chance to even its record against Purdue as the current record is 22-21 in favor of the Boilermakers. 

However, the Spartans hold a slight home advantage over Purdue with a 12-9 record in East Lansing. Also, both teams have split five-win and five-loss, breakdown in the last 10 games. However, the Spartans have dropped the last two games inside the Breslin to Purdue, most recently losing an overtime matchup 76-71. 

Purdue is led at the helm by head coach Katie Gearlds who is in her third year as head coach of the program. In just three years, Gearlds has turned Purdue's program around as they finished last season with a 19-11 record, including a win over MSU.

This year the Boilermakers are led on the court by fifth-year guard Abbey Ellis who is currently leading the team in scoring with 246 points scored on the season and is averaging 13.7 points so far. The guard has also racked up 43 assists and has used her quick hands on defense to tally 30 steals as well. 

The Spartans will have to try and play the passing lanes and also be quick with their hands as the Boilermakers have played a lot of pass-friendly basketball. If the Spartans can clog up the lines, they will be able to create turnovers like they have all season. Although Purdue has totaled up 272 assists, they’ve also totaled up for 281 turnovers. The Spartans will also have to channel some of their defensive presents in the paint as Purdue will have some size in their frontcourt.

Fralick spoke briefly about the size that the Boilermakers have in the frontcourt and other key points of the team's offense in a session with the media before the matchup.

"Big and physical, their four and their five," Fralick said. "They score a lot through their post players; they’ve got a really good shooter.” 

Fralick also spoke about getting ready for Purdue, and about getting prepped for further Big Ten matchups for the rest of the season.

“Well, we got to show up and be better," Fralick said. "You know we had a day off and then we prepped yesterday and we’ll prep today. We got to be tough enough to be able to play at a high level of things.” 

Tip-off for the matchup between the Spartans and the Boilermakers is set for Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. inside the Breslin Center. The matchup will also be streamed on Big Ten Plus. 

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