Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MSU women's basketball completely flips script from previous match against Minnesota, defeat Golden Gophers 76-65

February 5, 2024
<p>Michigan State University sophomore guard Abbey Kimball (2) reads the court during their game matchup against&nbsp;Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Feb. 5, 2024. MSU would go onto win 76-65 against Minnesota.</p>

Michigan State University sophomore guard Abbey Kimball (2) reads the court during their game matchup against Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Feb. 5, 2024. MSU would go onto win 76-65 against Minnesota.

Photo by Zari Dixson | The State News

After the worst shooting performance of the season in the first go-around just a few weeks ago, the Michigan State women's basketball team completely flipped its performance in its 76-65 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

There was no ignoring the Spartans' poor shooting performance in their first matchup against the Golden Gophers, where they were outbattled 69-50. In the loss, the Spartans were held to a disappointing 20-for-61 shooting night, including only five three-pointers made out of 28 attempts. 

At the time, the loss seemed like a momentum killer because a squad that had been averaging well around 90 points per game had just been held almost half of that, and it appeared that the team was struggling to connect in various portions of the game. 

However, resilience has been one of the main factors of this team, so it was truly no surprise to see this team follow up on one of their worst performances so far with a three-game winning streak heading into this rematch. 

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Michigan State University junior guard DeeDee Hagemann (0) throws a no-look pass during their game matchup against Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Feb. 5, 2024. MSU would go onto win 76-65 against Minnesota.

A tone was immediately set in the first quarter after the Spartans scored their first 12 points from behind the three-point line. Shot after shot, the Spartans could not be stopped early from deep as they finished the first quarter with 15 of their 20 points from the three-point line, tying their total points from three in their first matchup against the Golden Gophers. 

After the game, graduate student guard Moira Joiner talked about how the team has improved at setting an early tone and why it is so important.

"I think, especially in the last couple of games, we've really done a good job with (setting the tone)," Joiner said. "When you start games like that, you set the tone, you set what happens next and you have the momentum."

The Spartans were able to find another gear in the second quarter by moving their scoring closer to the basket as they totaled a combined 15 points from the inside and the free-throw line. In addition to the second-quarter inside aggressiveness, Michigan State added another four three-pointers. 

MSU was scoring from all over the court in the first half, and at some points, it seemed like the ball never stopped moving while they were in their offensive possessions. The Spartans fueled their first-half offensive performance with ball movement as they assisted on 14 of their 17 baskets.

By halftime, five different Spartans had scored at least one basket from the three-point line, including graduate guard Julia Ayrault, who finished the quarter with a perfect 3-for-3 from the three-point line at halftime to push the Spartans to a 47-24 lead. 

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Michigan State University junior foward Jocelyn Tate (11) plays defense during their game matchup against Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Feb. 5, 2024. MSU would go onto win 76-65 against Minnesota.

Things cooled down a little in the third quarter for Michigan State as the team only scored 13 points while allowing the Golden Gophers to score 22. Things could have turned out worse, but the extra effort that the Spartans provided in their full-court press created seven turnovers alone in the third quarter, which kept the game still just out of distance for Minnesota. 

The Golden Gophers continued to fight until the end, but the early first-half lead that the Spartans had built up thanks to the early hot shooting was a hard challenge to overcome. 

When the Spartans added on another three three-pointers late in the fourth quarter, it was clear there was no coming back from the Spartan shooting performance for the Golden Gophers. 

It turned out to be a complete flipping of the script from the Spartans when comparing their first game against Minnesota to this game. Along with finishing 32% from the field, the Spartans also shot a below-average 17% from three in their first game. However, in this matchup, Michigan State shot a much more impressive 42.6% from the field and 35% from deep. 

After the game, Fralick expressed her pleasure with her team's first-half performance while adding that the second half had some "learning moments."

"Well, I was really proud of our team for finding a way to beat a good Minnesota team," Fralick said. "I thought it was the tale of two halves. We had a really, really good first half and the second half there are some things we can definitely learn moving forward, but proud of our overall effort."

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Michigan State University junior forward Jocelyn Tate (11) celebrates a scoring drive during their game matchup against Minnesota at the Breslin Center on Feb. 5, 2024. MSU would go on to win 76-65 against Minnesota.

Michigan State will be back on the court, this time in Bloomington, Indiana, on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. to face off against a top-25 opponent: the Indiana Hoosiers. Michigan State will then return from Indiana to face off against Ohio State on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at home. Both games will be streamed on Peacock. 

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