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Maryland women’s basketball at Michigan State preview

The Terps head to East Lansing for a test against the Spartans.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Maryland at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

After the postponement of its game against Purdue, Maryland women’s basketball is gearing up for an away game against Michigan State.

The decision to postpone Saturday’s game came after 45 minutes of trying to address the leak without immediate success, leading both teams agreeing to reschedule the match for a later date. Damon Evans, Maryland’s athletic director, hinted at the possibility of the game being rescheduled for later this week.

But now, the Terps must shift their focus to the Spartans.

Michigan State exhibits a promising overall record, yet it sits below .500 in conference play. Its recent game culminated in a memorable Caitlin Clark buzzer-beater, granting No. 4 Iowa a narrow victory.

Tuesday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. and air on Big Ten Network.

Michigan State Spartans (11-3, 1-2 Big Ten)

2022-23 record: 16-14, 7-10 Big Ten

In her first year leading the program, head coach Robyn Fralick brings a wealth of experience to Michigan State. She spent the previous five years at Bowling Green, where she was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2021. Prior to that, she made her mark at Ashland University, boasting a 104-3 record across three seasons, granting her the highest winning percentage in NCAA history for a coach with a minimum of 100 games coached. Her overall career coaching record stands at an impressive 192-76.

Players to know

Moira Joiner, graduate guard, 5-foot-10, No. 22 — Joiner has seen a significant leap from her senior season, during which she averaged 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Now, she boasts an impressive average of 15.9 points and five rebounds per game.

Julia Ayrault, graduate guard, 6-foot-2, No. 40 — Ayrault has played in all 14 games this season, starting 12 of them. She averages the second-most points per game on the team (14.5), showcasing a remarkable improvement from last year’s average of just 3.6 points per game. Additionally, Ayrault is the Spartans’ leader in blocks (36).

DeeDee Hagemann, junior guard, 5-foot-7, No. 0 — Hagemann is the Spartans’ primary facilitator with 55 assists this season. Despite her smaller stature, she is a formidable scorer, ranking third on the team with an average of 14.1 points per game.

Strength

Offense. The Spartans boast the highest offensive output in the Big Ten, averaging 91.1 points per game. Their efficiency is equally remarkable with a 49.3% field goal percentage, which ranks fourth in the conference.

Weakness

Defense. While Michigan State’s defense isn’t poor, it does fall behind in certain aspects compared to other Big Ten teams. The team ranks 12th in the conference for both opponent field goal percentage (41.3) and opponent 3-point field goal percentage (31.5).

Three things to watch

1. Who will emerge as the second option? As the season advances and Big Ten play unfolds, players are expected to define and solidify their roles. Shyanne Sellers is unmistakably the top choice for Maryland, but who will step up as the second option?

2. Can Alexander return to form? Although Brinae Alexander made some crucial shots against Minnesota, her total points have been limited to just 17 over the last three games. Consistently contributing double-digit scoring nights and maintaining a solid percentage from downtown, where she excels, will significantly benefit the squad.

3. A barometer for the Terps. Michigan State has shown its ability to compete with top-tier teams, pushing Iowa right to final horn. It will be intriguing to see how the Terps match up against a motivated Spartans team.