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Michigan State women's basketball looks to add to win streak in rematch with Minnesota

February 4, 2024
Michigan State Women’s Basketball team takes on Perdue at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Jan. 24, 2024.
Michigan State Women’s Basketball team takes on Perdue at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Jan. 24, 2024.

The Michigan State women's basketball team has been on fire since losing its fifth game of the season to the Minnesota Golden Gophers back in mid-January. Since the 69-50 loss, the Spartans have crushed their opponents all by at least 18 points. 

After defeating Rutgers 82-64 on Tuesday, the Spartans have had nearly a week off before taking the court again against the team that handed them their most recent loss just over two weeks ago. 

The time off was well needed to prepare for an opponent such as the Golden Gophers, especially when the Spartans fell flat in the second half of their last matchup against Minnesota. After losing by 19 points in the first matchup, head coach Robyn Fralick expressed that it felt like the first time the team felt so out of sync. 

"That was the first game of the year where I thought we just looked gassed out," Fralick said. "There wasn't a point in the game where I thought we got our rhythm back. I thought we were pretty much out of sync from the second quarter on."

Fralick also talked about the loss being a learning experience for the team, which has been proven to be true as the team has taken the loss and used it as fuel, besting their next three opponents–Purdue, Michigan, and Rutgers–all within a week. 

The most recent win against Rutgers was another showing of the Michigan State offensive arsenal as five different Spartans once again scored in double digits to lead the team to its sixth Big Ten win of the season. 

Things have been the opposite for the Golden Gophers since their win against the Spartans. Recently, Minnesota has lost three straight games, the most recent being dealt by Penn State after the Nittany Lions had a strong first half. Although the Golden Gophers had four double-digit scorers, they still could not overcome the 80-64 loss. 

Unfortunately for the Golden Gophers, things had been going much smoother before sophomore guard Mara Braun suffered a foot injury against the University of Illinois on Jan. 28. Before the injury, Braun had been the leading scorer for Minnesota and is still fourth on the Big Ten’s top scorers list with an average of 17.8 points per game, even though she hasn’t played for the past week. 

Minnesota's head coach Dawn Plitzuweit is in her first season as the head of the program, and so far, she has built up an impressive 14-7 record. Overall, this will be Plitzuweit's 17th season as a collegiate coach, most recently coaching at West Virginia. During her coaching career, Plitzuweit has earned a 379-148 record.

Plitzuweit is 1-0 against the Spartans after Minnesota defeated the Spartans on Jan. 20. That win places the series history at 47-25 in Minnesota's favor. Although the Spartans dropped the last game against the Golden Gophers, they have won four of the last six matchups in the series. 

One huge factor in the last matchup between the two teams was the physical and effective defensive scheme that the Golden Gophers had planned for the matchup. Throughout the entire season, Minnesota has been a top-notch defensive team, sitting just behind Michigan in the No. 2 spot for defense. Their defense was especially effective against the Spartans back in January because it stands to be the worst shooting performance the Spartans have had all season, as they shot 32.8 percent from the field. 

The poor shooting performance led to the Spartans’ lowest-scoring game of the year, with a final point total of only 50 points. Before that loss, the lowest the Spartans had scored was 65, and they had been averaging nearly 90 points per game at the time. 

Fortunately for Michigan State, the team was able to quickly bounce back from this low-scoring loss with three Big Ten wins, including a win over in-state rival Michigan, which holds the top-ranked defense in the Big Ten. 

If the Spartans can be quick and effective on both sides of the ball in the same fashion they were against Michigan, they will have a chance to overcome the Minnesota defense that held them to such a low-point total last time out. 

Tip-off for the matchup between the Spartans and the Golden Gophers is set for Monday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m. inside the Breslin Center. The Spartans will also be celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The game is available to watch on Big Ten Network.

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