Spartans look ahead to Hartford Hawks on Sunday

Suzy+Merchant%2FPhoto%3A+Siobhan+Findlay
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Spartans look ahead to Hartford Hawks on Sunday

Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Suzy Merchant/Photo: Siobhan Findlay

Nathan Stearns, Women's Basketball/Field Hockey Beat Reporter

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The Michigan State Spartans will be looking to finish off this week’s homestand on a strong note, as they welcome the visiting Hartford Hawks to East Lansing this Sunday at 2 p.m.

MSU will be looking to maintain a perfect record and improve to 5-0 against the 0-5 Hawks. The 2019-20 season has been a bit of a transitionary period for Hartford, as they lost head coach Kim McNeill to Eastern Carolina, as well as their top five leading scorers from last year’s successful campaign.

The Spartans slogged their way through the game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Tuesday, en route to a 40% overall shooting night from the floor. Despite the eventual 76-56 win over the Golden Grizzlies, the Spartans  were unable to stretch their lead out until the latter stages of the third quarter. 

Shay Colley’s status for this Sunday remains up in the air, according to coach Suzy Merchant’s post game presser after the Oakland contest. It would be ideal for Colley to gain some playing experience in the starting five, and get back in rhythm with several ranked opponents waiting on the horizon. 

Shay Colley/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

The possible addition of Colley would add another wrench into the projected rotation for the Spartans. Already this season, several players such as Moira Joiner, Alyza Winston, Julia Ayrault, Kayla Belles, Taiyier Parks and Mardreika Cook have received significant minutes in this non-conference slate of games.

With a rotation that seems to be in flux through four games, Cook was one of the lone Spartan bright spots against Oakland, as she registered 14 points and four boards in 16 minutes of action. With Colley’s possible return imminent, Cook established herself on Tuesday as a quality rotation piece for MSU.

The struggles of last season’s Michigan State squad away from the friendly confines of the Breslin Center have been well documented.

One of the three wins on the road for MSU last season was against these Hartford Hawks. It took the Spartans an overtime period to dispatch the Hawks 74-66.

The Hawks were able to make the WNIT last season, as they compiled a sterling record of 14-2 in conference play in the American East. Hartford would finish 23-11 for the 2018-2019 season.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, several of the key contributors from last season are gone. Leading scorer Lindsey Added, who averaged 14.1 points per game for Hartford graduated. Sierra Dacosta, who was the second leading scorer last season for the Hawks transferred to East Carolina. 

All in all, the Hawks lost their top five scorers from last season’s 23-win campaign, as a result of either graduation or transfers.

The Hartford contest on Sunday will serve as the final tuneup opportunity for the Spartans before they head off to the Bahamas next week. If the Spartans are able to vanquish the Hawks, they will head to the Caribbean with a perfect mark and a strong slate of momentum. 

Contact Nathan Stearns at stearnsn@msu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @NathanStearns11.