Jan. 31, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Michigan State women's basketball team overcame a double-digit deficit to top Northwestern, 67-62 on Thursday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Spartans, who improve to 17-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, were led by a career-high 21 points from junior Annalise Pickrel, who went 5-of-7 from the 3-point arc.
Michigan State has now won 18-straight games over Northwestern, and won its eighth consecutive game at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Pickrel also tied for the team lead with six rebounds and grabbed a career-high four steals off the bench tonight. Senior Jasmine Thomas added 14 points, 12 of which were in the second half, on 6-for-8 shooting, and tied Pickrel with six rebounds. Sophomore Kiana Johnson dished out a season- and game-high nine assists and picked up three steals.
Northwestern scored the first 10 points of the night over the initial 3:52, and held MSU to five points over the first 8:34. The Spartans would claw back and take their first lead at 16-15 with 8:46 until half. The first half would feature four ties before the Wildcats ended the half on a 7-0 run over the final 2:47 to take a 32-26 halftime lead.
Northwestern scored 11 seconds into the second half to go up eight. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Courtney Schiffauer and Pickrel gave MSU back the lead at 42-41 with under 14 minutes to go. A scoreless stretch of nearly five minutes by the Spartans followed as the Wildcats scored seven unanswered. Michigan State immediately responded with a 19-2 run, including eight points from Thomas, over the next six and a half minutes to open an 11-point lead (61-50) with 3:24 left. Northwestern would not go away, getting back within three, but two free throws by Klarissa Bell in the final seconds iced the win.
After shooting only 30% in the first half and allowing NU to shoot 50%, the Spartans flipped the numbers in the second half, shooting 56%, including 6-for-8 from 3-point, while holding the Wildcats to 36.7%. MSU forced 21 Northwestern turnovers, which led to a 25-14 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Spartans return to action on Monday, hosting Michigan at 7:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The game is MSU's annual Play4Kay Pink Game.
- MSU shot a season-best 57.1% (8-for-14) from behind the arc, tying for the most makes in a game this season. It was the best percentage since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (57.5%).
- Michigan State forced 21 turnovers for the second-straight game, and have forced 20.3 per game over the last four.
- Pickrel moved into 16th place on the MSU career 3-point made list with 61.
- Pickrel is the first Spartan to hit at least five 3-pointers in a game since Taylor Alton (6 vs. Penn State on Jan. 17, 2012).
- Pickrel led MSU in scoring for the third time this season.
- Johnson has led MSU in assists in five of the last six games.
- Thomas tied her season high with six field goals made.
- Thomas played her 118 career game, tying for 17th on the Spartan career list.
- Today was the first time this season that MSU won after trailing at the half. It is the largest halftime defciit overcome since Feb. 27, 2011 (7 at Minnesota).
- The Spartans improve to 30-17 on the road in Big Ten games under Coach Merchant.
- Michigan State has won 73 of its last 74 games when leading with five minutes left. The Spartans are 115-5 under Coach Merchant when doing so.
- MSU is now 42-14 after a loss in Coach Merchant's tenure.
- The Spartans have held 20 of their opponent's 21 leading scorers below their season average. Northwestern's Kendall Hackney (15.0 ppg) had 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
- As Spartan head coach, Suzy Merchant improves to 8-0 in the state of Illinois.