Michigan State earns much-needed win over Rutgers


Jack Moreland

DeeDee Hagemann dribbles into the lane during Michigan State’s 85-63 victory over Rutgers on January 22, 2023. Photo Credit: Jack Moreland/WDBM

Jay DeCoster, Women's Basketball Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State women’s basketball team (11-9, 3-6) took care of business and snapped its four-game losing streak 85-63 against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-13, 2-7) on Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center. 

Sunday’s contest celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX and MSU alumni. 

The Spartans started the game with efficient and turnover-free basketball, as the team did not commit a turnover in the first quarter. MSU had a 27-10 run in the first quarter and only committed two turnovers in the first half. 

“I think part of the reason why we were efficient was because we were able to get stops and keep our pressure on them in our transition game,” said head coach Suzy Merchant. “I thought our players, whether they were subs or starters, did a good job of pushing tempo and making good decisions.” 

In the second quarter, Rutgers did not record a field goal in the last 4:30. The Spartans would go into the locker room up 48-26. 

Senior guard Moira Joiner led the Spartans with 9 points in the first half. Sophomore guards DeeDee Hagemann and Matilda Ekh added 7 points.  

Along with the contributions from the bench, four players recorded double figures for the Spartans. Freshman guard Abbey scored 13 points and shot 50% from the field.

“She’s [Abbey Kimball] starting to get into her groove a little bit,” Merchant said. “I think her basketball timing and everything is coming back, and we’ve seen it before Christmas and into the early part of January.”

Kimball has seen increased playing time in the past month and the work on the court is showing why she’s a reliable option. 

“It was hard to establish yourself when you’re coming in right when Big Ten play starts,” Kimball said. “I think that I engraved into my head and mentality that every opportunity matters. When I got in, whether it was the first quarter or the fourth quarter, I had to do what I could do with those minutes.”

The Scarlet Knights came out scoring on their first three shots to start the quarter and forced head coach Suzy Merchant to call an urgent timeout. Freshman guard Kaylene Smikle played a crucial role in trying to get the Scarlet Knights level with the Spartans.

Smikle ended the night with 27 points on 53% shooting. She had three steals to go along with her impressive individual performance.

The Spartans would respond by going on a 9-0 run to close out the third quarter and lead 63-44.

The team only shot 23% from the three-point line despite the dominating Spartan performance. Scoring in the paint was a great strength, as senior forward Taiyier Parks had a redeeming game with 14 points.

The Spartans would go on to seal the 85-63 win.  

MSU will travel to Champaign and take on the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 6 p.m.