Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Michigan State women's basketball dominates second meeting against Rutgers, win 93-57

February 24, 2024
<p>Junior guard Moira Joiner shoots a three at the Breslin Center on Nov. 16, 2021. Michigan State women&#x27;s basketball took down Valparaiso 73-62, as Head Coach Suzy Merchant claimed her 500th win.</p>

Junior guard Moira Joiner shoots a three at the Breslin Center on Nov. 16, 2021. Michigan State women's basketball took down Valparaiso 73-62, as Head Coach Suzy Merchant claimed her 500th win.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

After a 70-66 victory against Michigan last Sunday and a 68-59 victory over Purdue on Wednesday, the Michigan State women's basketball team collected its third victory in a row as the team dominated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 93-57 on Saturday, Feb. 24. With this win, the Spartans now sit at 20-7 in overall play and 10-6 in Big Ten conference games and the Scarlet Knights fall to 8-22 overall and 2-15 in conference games.

This game gave the Spartans a series sweep over Rutgers this season, as they beat them the first time around 82-64 in late January. The Spartans are now currently competing with Nebraska for the fourth spot in the Big Ten, and with this win, inch closer to capturing that No. 4 ranking in the women's Big Ten tournament

The band began to play the traditional Michigan State fight song, the national anthem lifted fans to their feet, "Go Green, Go White" chants reigned throughout the arena and the game started as Rutgers center Chyna Cornwell won the inaugural tip to get this matchup started.   

While the game started off quickly for Rutgers with a steal and score by Destiny Adams, it was MSU’s quick three-point offense that plagued the Scarlet Knights. Spartan guards Moira Joiner and Abbey Kimball knocked down a pair of threes in the first four minutes to give the Spartans an early 11-4 lead.

Defensively, both teams brought the full-court press early. This strategy initially worked for Rutgers as they began to turn things around, forcing three early turnovers. However, it was the missed opportunities by the Scarlet Knights-- missed fastbreak layups and other shots-- that allowed the Spartans to hold their early lead.

Following a quick timeout, Rutgers came out of the gate swinging, regaining the lead by going on a quick 8-0 run to bring the score to 12-11. However, it was the three-point game that broke the 8-0 run as a flurry of three-pointers by Joiner, Kimball and guard Julia Ayrault shot the Spartans out back in front 27-15. The first quarter horn sounded and the Spartans would start the second quarter with a 12-point advantage. 

Joiner started off the second quarter quickly, as only 15 seconds in, she hit a quick corner three to extend the lead to 15, the largest of the night at this point. Rutgers continued to bring its full-court press but MSU had no trouble breaking it. The Spartans started off the quarter on an 8-0 run to bring the score to 35-15, before the Scarlet Knights were forced to call a timeout to get things in order. 

Following the timeout, Rutgers began to quicken things up and eventually ended their scoreless drought with a Jillian Huerter three-pointer. For the Spartans offensively, they began to slow down the game as they took the ball to the hoop and converted on almost everything inside the paint. The Spartans weren’t missing and it was clear that Rutgers was in trouble, and the team's head coach Coquese Washington was having none of it as she called her second timeout of the quarter. 

The troubles continued for the Scarlet Knights as Joiner hit a step-back three to extend Michigan State's lead to 49-22. It was at that time when Spartan guard DeeDee Hagemann, who was at the time having a quiet game, began to step up defensively, forcing back-to-back turnovers late in the second quarter. As time winded down in the half, the Spartans couldn’t draw up a final play to extend their lead and missed two shots as the halftime horn sounded. The Spartans, heading into the locker room, were having a dominating performance, as they were up 51-27. 

For Joiner, it was her impeccable offense that carried the way throughout the first half, as she shot 87% from the field, putting up 20 points. During that whole first half, the Spartans only missed 11 shots, shooting 63% from the field and 61% from beyond the arc. For Rutgers, it was the lack of completed shots that was the story of the first half, as the team only went 31% from the field

Turnovers were a problem for both teams during the first half, as the Spartans and Scarlet Knights combined for 15. However, Rutgers wasn’t able to capitalize like the Spartans were able to for points off of turnovers

The Spartans didn’t hesitate coming out of the locker room as they started off on a 14-0 run, forcing three quick turnovers within the first two minutes. However, MSU head coach Robyn Fralick and the Spartans weren't done as they continued to bring their full court press, nabbing another turnover before Rutgers finally called a timeout with 7:44 on the clock, down 65-27.

Following the timeout, Rutgers guard Erica Lafayette gathered an offensive rebound and ended the 14-0 run by hitting a mid-range jump shot. However, Ayrault answered with a mid-range jumper of her own. It seemed like anything that Rutgers did, Michigan State could do better, as midway through the third quarter, the Spartans held a 40 point lead with the score of 72-32. 

The Spartans defense translated into offense on what seemed like every possession, as the Rutgers turnovers continued to pile up while the Spartans converted almost every time they went down the court. With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, following a missed shot by the Scarlet Knights, Hagemann grabbed a rebound and threw a full-court dime to Spartan guard Theryn Hallock, who converted the layup to bring the Spartan score up to 74. 

Michigan State held the last possession but couldn’t convert a buzzer beater attempt by guard Tory Ozment, which brought another stellar quarter by the Spartans to an end. Going into the fourth quarter, the Spartans were up 78-35. 

With the fourth quarter underway, Michigan State's bench players entered the game, prompting a slow offensive start. With just under nine minutes left in the game, a foul was called on Ozment and as she expressed her disliking for the foul, she drew a technical foul from the referee. This gave Rutgers some late momentum as Rutgers pulled within 37, prompting Fralick to bring back some of the starters. However, this momentum didn’t last long as guard Jocelyn Tate took the ball to the basket and converted a layup to bring the score to 82-43. 

During the midway point of the quarter, the Scarlet Knights began to move the ball around offensively, getting good looks from the field, and began to convert. However, it all seemed too little too late as the Spartans held such a large lead, and Fralick once again brought out the bench players

Even while leading by 35 points, the Spartans still tried to command their offense and defense like they did all game, as they took the ball to the basket, shot open looks and played tight defense against their opponent, continuing to fight hard

As the time ticked down, "Go Green, Go White" chants from the loyal crowd continued to reign throughout the stadium, and the final horn sounded, giving Michigan State the 93-57 victory over the Scarlet Knights

Looking ahead, the Spartans will take a short break before hitting the court once again to try and create a four-game winning streak, taking on Illinois at the Breslin Center on Thursday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. This game will also be streamed on Big Ten Plus

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