Jan. 16, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball dug deep and battled its way to a 41-37 win at Michigan on Thursday night. The Spartans held the Wolverines (9-8, 2-4) to 22.4% from the field, a season-low for MSU, and 6-of-35 (17.1%) from behind the arc, as MSU improves to 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.
The 37 points allowed were the seventh fewest since the 1974-75 season and the third fewest in Big Ten play, all three occurring against the Wolverines. The Spartans held Michigan to 33 and 34 points during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons respectively.
The combined total of 78 points is the third fewest in Michigan State history and the fewest since the Spartans beat Michigan, 40-33 on Feb. 28, 1975. The lowest combined total came in the first game in program history, a 38-31 loss at Eastern Michigan on Jan. 30, 1973. In addition, the 41 points scored in a win is the second lowest in a Spartan victory, only topped by the MSU/U-M game on Feb. 28, 1975.
Junior Allyssa DeHaan led the Spartans with 12 points, all in the second half, and eight rebounds, while redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson added nine points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Brittney Thomas had eight points, five rebounds and two assists, and classmate Kalisha Keane grabbed seven boards and blocked a career-high three blocks.
The first half began well for the Spartans as they jumped out to a 6-3 lead, with all the points coming from Thomas, in the initial six minutes. Michigan responded with a 11-0 run over the next six and a half minutes, to open up its biggest lead of the night at 14-6. Over the half's final 7:30, MSU closed on a 10-3 run to get within one at 17-16 going into the intermission. Points were tough to come by in the first half, as both teams went on streaks of more than five minutes without scoring.
After a Jessica Minnfield 3-pointer on Michigan's first possession of the second half that pushed U-M's lead to 20-16, the Spartans ran off eight of the next 10 points to take their first lead since the early minutes of the first half at 24-22 with under 15 minutes remaining. That would be MSU's last basket for almost five minutes, as the Wolverines went on a 9-0 run to take a 31-24 lead with 10:43 on the clock.
With their backs up against the wall, MSU went on a 12-0 run, sparked by a balanced attack and the continuing pressure defense. Michigan missed 10-straight shots during the 7:09 scoreless span, seeing the Spartans gain a 36-31 lead with 4:43 left. The game of runs continued as the Wolverines scored the next five points, capped by a Carly Benson 3-pointer, to regain the advantage (37-36) with 1:06 left. However, the Spartans quickly responded as Thomas found Jefferson for an old fashion 3-point play on the next possession, giving MSU a slim 37-35 lead. Michigan could not find the tying basket and DeHaan iced the game with a pair of free throws late for the 41-37 final.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday at 4 p.m. against Penn State at the Breslin Center. The game can been seen live on the Big Ten Network.
NOTES: Michigan State has now won three-straight and 12 of the last 13 against Michigan ... MSU leads the all-time series 52-15 ... Today was the seventh time this season that the Spartans have held an opponent under 30% from the field, having won all seven games ... The Spartans outscored Michigan 24-12 in the paint ... MSU outrebounded the Wolverines, 45-35 ... MSU is 9-1 this season when they grab more than 40 rebounds ... The Spartans are now 10-0 when holding their opponent under 60 points and 9-0 when holding them under 31% from the field ... When DeHaan reached double-figures, MSU is now 9-0 this season and 45-14 in her career; also they are 5-0 when she leads them in scoring (29-4 in her career) ... With eight rebounds, DeHaan moves into 13th place on the MSU all-time list with 641 ... This was just the second time this year that Michigan State won when trailing at the half ... MSU is 6-1 at night this season.