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Women’s Basketball Riding Wave Into Cherokee Invitational Championship

Early season college basketball presents opportunities for trophies - can women’s basketball claim one in Cherokee?

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Robert Killips | Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

On a campus in need of some feel-good stories, one of the best of this 2023 fall and winter season has been the emergence of the women’s basketball program under first year head coach Robyn Fralick. Tonight, the Spartans are looking for a championship in the Cherokee Invitational, as they take on Coastal Carolina for the title after dispatching the Richmond Spiders in their opener.

Before traveling to the idyllic mountain country of western North Carolina, the Spartans finished their weekend in a lively atmosphere at the Breslin Center. Fralick’s Spartans took down Central Michigan 91-67 for the head coach’s 200th career victory, and what was their 8th win on the season. CMU’s trip down 127 to East Lansing was the return of Kristin Haynie to the Breslin Center, where she spent 4 years as the Spartan point guard, leading MSU to a Final Four in 2005. Haynie was an assistant on Suzy Merchant’s MSU staff for the past 4 seasons, before CMU hired her to lead their program prior to this season.

The Chippewas are not a good team this season, sitting at 1-8 after wrapping up their pre-holiday slate of games. Their only win up to this point has been at home against Concordia-Ann Arbor. MSU was in control of their game against CMU from start to finish with only a brief hiccup in the 3rd quarter. MSU, with only 7 players available, was led in scoring by Moira Joiner with a season high 27 points. Julia Ayrault added a double double with 10 rebounds and 13 points.

After a quick turnaround, the Spartans flew to Cherokee NC for the Cherokee Invitational, a celebration of women’s basketball at the college and high school level. Along with MSU, Richmond, Coastal Carolina, and Chattanooga are in the field. Coastal Carolina took care of business against Chattanooga, beating the Mocs 53-49. The Chanticleers will take on the Spartans, who took down Richmond in their opener 83-78.

Against Richmond, MSU was in control for much of the ballgame, holding on late for the victory. DeeDee Hagemann led the Spartans’ scoring with 21, and her efforts were aided by another shining performance from Moira Joiner, who has scored 10+ points in every game this season and added 10 rebounds against the Spiders. Michigan State’s hot shooting continued, as they hit 10 three pointers against Richmond - the sixth time they’ve done so this year.

Against Coastal Carolina, MSU will have its hands full with a team that pulled an upset over the 11-2 Mocs of Chattanooga. The Chanticleers put together a strong team effort to take the win, coming back from an 11-2 Chattanooga run to open the ballgame. The Chants came back and took care of business in a game of runs. Arin Freeman and Zaria Hurston led Coastal with 10 points each, while Makaila Cange grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the team.

MSU will have its hands full with a hungry Coastal squad. We’ll see how the Spartans’ electric offense and pressing defense translates against the sea of teal on the court tonight in Cherokee, and whether Robyn Fralick’s team gets the first of hopefully many trophies in her time in East Lansing.

The game will tip off around 9:30 (after the conclusion of the third place game between Richmond and Chattanooga) on BallerTV.