EAST LANSING ── Friday afternoon the Michigan State Spartans won 100-60 against the Bryant Bulldogs. This win gave Coach Suzy Merchant her 300th Michigan State victory. This makes her the second Michigan State women’s basketball head coach to capture 300 wins, behind Karen Langeland who had a 376-290 record at Michigan State. Coach Merchant also just got her 500th career win after Michigan State’s victory against Valparaiso on Tuesday.
The team welcomed DeeDee Hagemann back to the lineup after she missed last week’s game due to illness. This timing came perfectly as the Spartans were without Moira Joiner from the starting lineup after she left Tuesday’s game early due to injury. Hagemann came back big for the Spartans. She was a top scorer with nine points, four assists and three steals.
Hagemann earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week last week after her performances against Morehead State and Niagara. She had 10 and 11 points against the two teams respectively, including 12 assists, five steals and just four turnovers between the two contests. Hagemann was the first freshman on the team to win the award since Nia Clouden in 2018.
In the first quarter, both teams came out extremely strong with multiple steals and turnovers on each side. Freshman Matilda Ekh had a solid first quarter with two effortless 3-pointers. Bryant, however, was not going down without a fight, trailing Michigan State only by a few points.
As the quarter progressed, Bryant’s aggression turned into more fouls, which the Spartans used to their advantage. Bryant center Brooke Bjelko, one of the team’s top scorers, was already in danger of fouling out of the game, tallying 3 fouls by the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs trimmed Michigan State’s lead to as little as four points and tried to stay just a few points behind, but the Spartans began to pull ahead ending the quarter on a 6-0 run, 27-17.
Starting the second quarter Spartans began to follow the Bulldog’s footsteps, gaining three fouls in the first two minutes of the quarter. The Bulldogs struggled to get past the Spartans’ defense and full-court press and weren’t able to put up nearly as many points as the first quarter. MSU outscored Bryant as much as 26-1 before the Bulldog’s first field goal of the quarter which came from Juliette Golden with 3:44 remaining.
The Spartans ended up outscoring the Bulldogs 30-17 in the second quarter. Clouden came out strong scoring two 3-pointers in a row and led the team with 11 points. The Spartans were up big at the break, 59-34.
The second half of the game started with aggressive defense from the Bulldogs, keeping the Spartans from putting up too many points in the first minutes of the quarter, but that soon changed. The Bulldogs still struggled to put shots in the net and gave the ball away to the Spartans a number of times.
Bryant would turn the ball over a total of 26 times and give Michigan State 44 points off turnovers.
The last quarter was all Nia Clouden as she scored seven points, contributing to her overall 21 points in the game, the most of any scorer. Michigan State’s defense did not slow down giving up just six points to the Bulldogs in the final quarter and were able to give Merchant a comfortable 300th win.
The Spartans will look to continue their four-game win streak as they hit the road for three games in a row. They will start with a trip to New York to face Fordham on Nov. 21, then St. Francis College on Nov. 23. After Thanksgiving, they’ll head to Rochester to face Oakland University before returning home.