MSU Spartans
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Women's Basketball
Illinois 71, Michigan State 62 OT



Jan. 27, 2012

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Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

On if offense has been a problem...
You are right. We got the ball where we wanted it. We had post players down there, two feet from the basket and we can't make a layup. We can't make a post move and score over somebody. We have one guard right now that can play as an offensive attacking guard in Porsche (Poole). Kiana (Johnson) only plays second halves it seems to me right now. It's a problem. We tried to change up our defense a little bit in the first half, just out of the gates to start to try to get us moving a little bit. That didn't seem to quite work. You can't put yourself 14 down and miss 10 free throws and get a technical foul with two minutes to go in the game. And that's what we did. And they have been close. I know they have been struggling a little bit but they're a good team. They were one point, two points, three points, and overtime loss. They could be 5-2 right now or 6-2 right now.

On if the team is pressing with the recent struggles...
We don't fight until we're down. The first four games I thought we were really aggressive and attacking and we played good teams both on the road and at home. We were scoring the ball. And then we had one bad half against Ohio State. Since then, it's been downhill. It's like, we can't get offensively going.

On if she was surprised with their performance at home after the rough struggles on the road...
Yeah, I'm really upset about that. It's things like, you finally get a break and you get a wide open layup. (Courtney) Schiffauer has a wide open layup and we miss a wide open layup. That's unacceptable. That's kind of how I feel. I feel like our upper classmen really aren't consistent in the scoring department and taking on that bulk of being a player night in and night out. It's causing us, obviously, some problems. It's affecting our defense. But, I've told the team this. I think there is no question. There is a direct correlation between the two with this team. I've had teams where we struggled to score but we were grinding it out. We were right there. It was a battle. But this team, when were not scoring out of the gates, things aren't going our way and teams are shooting 50, 51, 52 percent field goal percentage and hitting shots in our face. We can't get that stopped and then we shoot poorly. And then the second half, when we start scoring the ball and our defense elevates and that team shot 26% in the second half. When I felt like things were going our way, offensively, then we were going to play some defense. It's got to be the other way around when offensive balls are not falling, we have to work harder defensively.

On if they will use the press as they move forward...
Yeah, we have to use everything we got. We've had that from the beginning. On that half court trap there we turned it over a few times. Honestly, at the end of the day when you're scoring off of our defense still in the second half. It came down right there in the last two minutes when they scored a little bit and we had to execute from court to court and we couldn't get it done. Or we would get to the free throw line and we wouldn't make our free throws. It was just a little frustrating to work that hard and get nothing in the court to court execution.

Illinois Head Coach Jolette Law

Opening statement...
I want to give a lot of credit to my team. We went into halftime and I told them not to get comfortable because Michigan State is a great ball club and they will come back, and they did. They went on their run, but we hung in there and got it down and forced overtime, and we found a way to finish when we got there.

On the difference between MSU in the first half and second half...
They came out with a lot of fire in the second half. They slowed us down a bit by going into a 2-2-1 then fell back into a 2-3. I think they went on their run and that adrenaline let them keep going, but once we got into overtime our kids refused to lose. They've been in this situation before and we found a way to get it done.

On Michigan State's energy level in overtime...
I was hoping they were out of gas, but everything (Porsche) Poole was shooting was going in, so I told my players to not even let her touch the ball. I think down the stretch we just kept changing defenses by putting fresh people out there and by overtime we got some open looks down low.




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