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Michigan State Women’s Basketball: St. Francis Preview

The Spartan women open their season this afternoon against the St. Francis Red Flash

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 20 Women’s Michigan State at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans women’s basketball team begins its 2020-2021 season today at 3 p.m. EST at the Breslin Center against the St. Francis Red Flash. This will be the first ever meeting between the two programs. The game will be available online only via BTN+ (subscription service).

The Red Flash went 11-19 last season, and tied for fourth in the Northeast Conference with a 9-9 record. St. Francis returns a combined six sophomores and juniors with playing experience. Those players include juniors Lili Benzel at guard, Jada Dapaa at center, and Kayley Kovac at guard. Sophomores returning include center/forward Katie Dettwiller, guard/forward Sam Miller, and guard Halie Murphy. Head coach Keila Whittington is back for her second season at the helm of the Red Flash.

Michigan State returns 64 percent of its scoring production from last season led by junior Nia Clouden and her 436 points, good for 14.5 per game. That led MSU last season and was good for eighth in the Big Ten. The Spartans also return 66.4 percent of their rebounding, and were led by returning sophomore Julia Ayrault who grabbed 134 boards last season, or 4.5 per game.

Junior Nia Clouden was also named Preseason All-Big Ten in both the coaches and media poll. This comes as she earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season and honorable mention as a freshman.

The Spartans are scheduled for a 25-game season with five non-conference games. In season openers the Spartans are 33-15 overall, and 25-2 in East Lansing. Head coach Suzy Merchant will begin her 14th season at the helm, and is 10-3 in season openers while at MSU.

The women’s team also had the following announcement about their season:

Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant is proud to launch the Erase Hate campaign for the 2020-21 season. The Erase Hate campaign aims to put the focus on student-athlete driven programming to address social injustice issues.

“I am very proud of our student-athletes and the efforts they have put into being leaders on campus and in our community championing racial equality. It’s been a very challenging off-season for our staff and our players, and we want to continue the message to Erase Hate through dedicating our season to action-based initiatives,” Merchant said. “This season is much bigger than just the game of basketball. Our team is passionate about so many things that transcend beyond just who they are as an athlete. We are proud to support them individually and as a member of our team using our women’s basketball platform to make the necessary progress and change for social equality.”

Throughout this season, women’s basketball players work to help lift up the voices of underrepresented groups both on campus and across the Greater Lansing area.

MSU women’s basketball will work to create positive change. Events across our nation over the past several months, have led the student-athletes to demand change.

”We have had numerous team meetings, as well as connecting with outside people through Zoom discussions, that have helped shape our team’s vision to find ways to consistently focus on action-based change. Dedicating this season to the Erase Hate initiative, will allow us to focus on action on our campus and in the greater Lansing community,” Merchant said.

“The reason I wanted to be involved is because the world is changing with or without me, and I want to do my best to put out positive energy and not hate,” Sophomore Taiyier Parks said.

Parks is also the women’s basketball team’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council’s representative.

”I want to use my voice and the knowledge I have or could possibly learn to educate myself and someone else to be part of the change that needs to happen in the world today and erase the hate,” Redshirt-junior Alisia Smith added.

A hub for the Erase Hate campaign will be available on to follow the initiative throughout the season.

Head Coach Suzy Merchant’s Weekly Press Conference Remarks, Nov. 25