Jan. 7, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)--Michigan State senior forward Taylor Alton woke up in State College on Saturday with a touch of a cold.
From her performance it would be hard to tell she felt under the weather.
Alton scored a career-high 20 points and Michigan State held off a late Penn State rally to upset the No. 22 Nittany Lions, 75-65, on Saturday.
"It's funny because I didn't have a good morning. I caught a touch of the bug I think," Alton said. "I really wasn't feeling my best physically, but I was able to focus. I was just able to stay mentally sharp and help the team as much as possible."
Alton hit six 3-pointers and had 11 of the team's first 16 points as the Spartans built an early 18-9 lead. When Alton went to the bench, Porsche Poole took over--scoring 10 points during a 15-2 run to help Michigan State build a 22-point lead.
"We didn't want them to get going in transition (on offense)," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant described how her team was able to build its lead. "We were making shots and that makes it much easier to get back on defense."
The Nittany Lions tried to rally in the second half, getting the Michigan State under 10 on a Maggie Lucas' 3-pointer with 3:58 left. Lucas had 28 of her career-high 33 points in the second half.
"We really wanted to get the win," Lucas said. "We were fired up and we really rallied together. It just wasn't enough."
Penn State whittled the Michigan State lead down to four twice late in the second half, once at the 3:15 mark on a Zhaque Gray 3-pointer and once on a Lucas drive at the 2:09 mark, but could get no closer.
Michigan State (11-5), the defending Big Ten champion, remains undefeated in league play at 3-0. Penn State (11-4), the preseason coach's pick to win the title, drops to 1-2 in the Big Ten. Both of Penn State's losses have come at home.
"It's only three games into the (league) season. It's no time to panic," Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. "We have time to get things straightened out."