Robyn Fralick picks up first win against rival Michigan in the highest attended home game of the season

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Gina Guy

With 9,385 boisterous fans filling the Breslin Center seats on Saturday afternoon, MSU head coach Robyn Fralick was able to get her first taste of the rivalry that is Michigan versus Michigan State.

After 40 minutes of play, it was Fralick coming out on top over the long-tenured Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico, and Michigan State moves to 1-0 against its rival in the Robyn Fralick era.

“That was a lot of fun,” Fralick said with a vibrant smile. “Really proud of our team…There’s so many kids on our team from the Midwest and from the state of Michigan. [Players] grow up watching this game, grow up dreaming of being a part of this game. I thought we played with tenacity and togetherness for all 40 minutes.”

Boasting the second-best scoring average in the Big Ten, the Spartans were firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. Junior guard DeeDee Hageman opened the scoring with a triple from the wing to get the fans on their feet early.

Graduate guard Moira Joiner, who recently joined the 1,000-point club, netted 10 of Michigan State’s first 18 points in the first quarter, and that would be about all she would produce on the offensive side of the ball, as Michigan drew up a game plan to force her to pass the ball and not pick up scoring opportunities.

After the hot start, Joiner added just two points to her total the rest of the way, finishing with 12.

Michigan State connected on two of its first three three-pointers, but could only get three of the next 15 triples to fall, forcing MSU to get to the paint and get points down low. This strategy worked wonders for the Spartans, as they were able to get 34 total points in the paint and get to the free throw line consistently, nailing 29 of their 34 free throw attempts.

“[Michigan] played two nights ago, and the game was called completely different than the game was called tonight,” Barnes Arico said. “I think that really affected us getting into any type of rhythm. A large part of it was probably Michigan State, but it obviously had an effect on us getting into an offensive rhythm.”

After a neck-and-neck first quarter that finished 27-23 in favor of Michigan State, the Spartans were able to pull ahead in the second quarter and never look back. MSU outscored Michigan 21-7 in the second quarter to extend its lead to 18 at halftime.

A short spark for the Wolverines at the beginning of the third quarter caused the Spartans a bit of havoc, but an and-one layup from Hagemann put the Breslin Crowd into a frenzy, and Michigan State carried this momentum with them through the second half, all the way to the final buzzer.

Four players scored double-figures for MSU, including Hagemann, Joiner, graduate guard Julia Ayrault, and junior forward Jocelyn Tate.

The victory for Michigan State moves the team to 15-5 (5-4 in Big Ten), and Michigan falls to 14-7 (5-4 in Big Ten).

To say that this was a special day for Fralick is an understatement. In her first season as head coach, she is already one win away from matching the Spartans win total from last year and has the team primed for a postseason run.

“It’s a scrapbook day,” Fralick said. “It’s a very memorable day. To put it any other way would minimize it.”

Michigan State travels to Rutgers next on Jan. 30 at 7 pm, where they will look to extend their winning streak to three.

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