Thursday, May 23, 2024

Spartans rout in-state rival Michigan Wolverines 82-61 with strong offensive performance

January 27, 2024
<p>DeeDee Hagemann from MSU women's basketball team scores despite Michigan Volverines defenses on Jan. 27, 2024.</p>

DeeDee Hagemann from MSU women's basketball team scores despite Michigan Volverines defenses on Jan. 27, 2024.

After once again evening out its record in the Big Ten, the Michigan State women’s basketball team looked to go 2-for-2 in its two-game homestead, this time against in-state rivals University of Michigan. The Spartans were ultimately able to walk away with an 82-61 win over the Wolverines in the first game of this iconic series.  

The Spartans were hoping to not fall into the same pattern that they had been doing all season of dropping below .500 and having to claw their way back to keep their head above water. After recently defeating Purdue on Wednesday night, the Spartans had a chance to gain some in-conference ground with a win in this rivalrous battle.

Graduate guard Julia Ayrault won the tip for the Spartans, and in the first 30 seconds of play, graduate guard Moira Joiner found junior guard DeeDee Hagemann on the left wing and she opened up the game with a three-pointer. 

A full crowd inside the Breslin Center immediately engaged with the Michigan State Spartans from the first scored basket. 

The Wolverines immediately responded back down low after sophomore forward Chyra Evans forced her way inside and scored on a contested layup. Right after, Ayrault was able to do just the same and even tacked on an "and-one" basket to give the Spartans an early 6-2 lead. 

The three-pointers started early for the Spartans as Joiner knocked down the second Spartan three-pointer of the game, just in the first four minutes. One thing the Spartans are looking to stay consistent with is late-game shooting, so scoring early on in the game is a factor in hopefully continuing that trend later on in the game; the Spartans did just that throughout this game.

The Wolverines continued to find success down low with eight of their first 11 points, all coming from the block and below. After attacking the post in the opening minutes, Michigan began to expand its scoring to the three-point line, inching closer to the MSU lead, but a late Theryn Hallock three-pointer increased the Spartan lead to 27-23 at the end of the first quarter. 

It was a slow start to the second quarter for both squads until junior guard Jocelyn Tate and Hagemann went for back-to-back baskets, increasing Michigan State's lead to 10 points in the first few minutes of the second quarter. 

Michigan State’s defensive prowess continued to increase as the game went on, forcing Michigan to make some tough decisions. With seven minutes left in the quarter, one of the Wolverine’s top scorers, Laila Phelia, got into early foul trouble. However, with the stagnant Wolverine offense, Michigan head coach Kim Arico was forced to put her back in. 

Unfortunately, the decision did not seem to pan out, as the Wolverines were still struggling to score, scoring only four points in seven minutes while at the same time, the Spartans had scored 15 points. 

On both sides of the ball, the Spartans had been absolutely dominant to close out the quarter, only allowing seven points the entire quarter, while finishing with 21 of their own second-quarter points to head into the locker room with a confident 48-30 lead. 

The second half started with defensive intensity from both sides, prompting another slow start for both teams. Michigan State got on the board first, but the Wolverines started to heat up in comparison to their third-quarter performance to score seven points in quick succession. 

Evans once again began to start attacking the inside area of the MSU defense, scoring quickly and often as she did early in the first quarter, while the Spartans struggled to find a single conversion in multiple attempts.

After an extended timeout for the officials to review a play, the Spartans got some points on the board after Hagemann scored an "and-one" layup, ending the short drought.

After the bucket from Hagemann, both teams once again went into a scoring drought for at least two and a half minutes, before the Spartans again scored from the free-throw line. However, after the free throw, Ayrault began to heat up and scored five straight points, while Michigan continued to struggle, going 0-for-6 in its last six attempts. 

The Spartans used the absence of scoring from the Wolverines as an opportunity to start running away with this game, and they nearly had after heading into the fourth quarter with a 62-41 lead. 

Unlike the rest of the quarters, both the Spartans and then the Wolverines got to the paint almost immediately after starting their possessions. Both teams began to answer each other’s points, however, the Wolverines were still at an 18-point deficit. 

The Spartans were attempting to minimize any late comebacks, but the Wolverines had not given in yet. Phelia continued to find ways to score for Michigan, but every time she did, a Spartan was there to respond. 

With only three minutes left in the game, the Spartans looked to make the correct play that would allow them to stay in control of this one. With a 19-point lead, scoring was no longer what the Spartans needed; now it was going to be defense. 

Tempers began to boil over in the last few minutes after 38 minutes of physical basketball had been played, but before things could go too far, both teams were sent to their sidelines very quickly before returning to normal play. 

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With less than two minutes to go and a 21-point lead for Michigan State, the Breslin began to erupt in celebration as fans knew the Spartans had the game locked. 

Although the Wolverines never gave up, their efforts just weren’t enough to beat the Spartans as the Green and White walked away from this with a 21-point win. 

The Spartans were led by four different Spartans in double digits including Hagemann with 20 points, Joiner with 12, Ayrault with 19 — who fouled out during the game — and Tate with 14 points, who also fouled out.

Looking ahead, the Spartans will be back in action on Tuesday, Jan. 30 in Piscataway, New Jersey as they look to take on Rutgers before returning back to East Lansing for a rematch against Minnesota. Tip-off for the Rutgers game is set for 7 p.m. and will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.

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