Women's Basketball Wins Fifth Straight, Holds Off Wisconsin, 59-50

Jan. 25, 2009

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team recorded its 600th win in program history and extended its winning streak to five games with a 59-50 victory over Wisconsin Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center. The Spartans improve to 14-6 overall and 7-2 in Big Ten play, marking the best conference start for MSU since sharing the league title in 2004-05 with a 14-2 league record. The season-high attendance of 10,489 at the game was the seventh-largest crowd in school history.

Redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson led the Spartans with a career-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while junior Allyssa DeHaan reached double figures for the 12th time this season with 11 points.

Featuring two of the best defenses in the Big Ten, the game was a low scoring affair in the first half. Wisconsin (14-7, 4-6) jumped out to an early 7-2 advantage in the first three minutes, but the Spartans clamped down and held the Badgers to just 14 points the rest of the half. Two Brittney Thomas free throws put MSU up 22-14 at the 4:30 mark and the Spartans led going into halftime, 24-21.

The second half was filled with scoring runs by both teams in a back-and-forth battle. Wisconsin scored the first four points after halftime to take a brief 25-24 lead, but the Spartans roared back and went on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 36-27 lead with 13:20 remaining. Johnson was a force during the run, scoring seven points.

Wisconsin answered with a run of its own, an 11-2 stretch over three minutes, knotting the game at 38. DeHaan broke the tie with a jumper from the left wing at the 9:21 mark - giving MSU the lead for good. DeHaan's basket sparked a 10-0 burst for the Spartans, which also included two 3-pointers by sophomore Kalisha Keane and a layup by redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson, that pushed MSU's margin to 48-38.

But it wasn't enough to clinch the game. Two straight 3's from Badger forward Mariah Dunham trimmed the lead to 49-47 with under five minutes to play.

It is as close as the Badgers would get, however, as Michigan State continued to hit clutch shots in the closing minutes to thwart the Wisconsin rally. Jefferson hit a 15-foot jumper to extend MSU's lead to 51-47 at the 2:57 mark, and DeHaan hit a shot in the paint to give the Spartans a five-point cushion, 55-50, with 52 seconds remaining. MSU hit all four of its free throws down the stretch to close out the hard-fought 59-50 victory.

The Spartan defense, featuring a menacing half-court trap, forced 22 Wisconsin turnovers and limited the Badgers to 35 percent shooting from the field.

Jefferson finished with nine points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Keane led MSU off the bench for the fourth straight game with eight points and three assists.

Dunham led the Badgers with 14 points and a career-high four 3-pointers.

The Spartans return to action Thursday, Jan. 29 to host Iowa at the Breslin Center; the game will begin at 7 p.m.

NOTES: Former Spartan players and coached were honored at halftime for Alumni Day ... MSU is now 13-0 when holding its opponent under 60 points ... The Spartans are 5-1 on the Big Ten Network this season ... MSU is 12-0 when leading at the half ... Michigan State is 12-0 when DeHaan reaches double-figures ... The Spartans are now 21-5 all-time against Wisconsin in East Lansing.