Feb. 4, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Larry Lage, AP) - Michigan State senior Courtney Schiffauer stood in the middle of her teammates - shouting at them in a way that would make Ray Lewis proud - before they stepped on the court to face rival Michigan.
"This is our state!" Schiffauer screamed.
In women's basketball, yes it is.
Becca Mills provided a lift with 12 points off the bench and Schiffauer provided passion along with nine points and nine rebounds to help the Spartans beat the Wolverines 61-46 Monday night.
Michigan State has won 12 straight in the series and 20 of the last 21 matchups, a stretch of dominance that is very important to the Spartans.
"That's huge," said junior guard Klarissa Bell, who had nine points and four assists. "They have a really good team this year with five seniors. When we go to Michigan, we're going to steal another one for our seniors and hopefully next year it happens all again."
The Spartans (18-4, 6-3 Big Ten) took control in their latest win with an 18-2 run that started late in the first half and ended later in the second. After being down by four points in the first half, they led 54-33 with 8-plus minutes left in the game.
"We did a nice job of getting stops and pushing in transition," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "They were tired. They play a lot of their key players a lot of minutes."
One of those players for the Wolverines (16-6, 5-4) is their leading scorer, Kate Thompson, who entered the game averaging 15-plus points. Thompson, playing 38 of 40 minutes, made just 3 of 12 shots and had to finish with a flurry of scoring to have 11 points. Nya Jordan led Michigan with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Rachel Sheffer scored 12.
"Michigan State really wore us down in the second half," Wolverines coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "They were very physical."
The Wolverines, though, started strong and didn't trail until midway through the first half.
Bell broke a 20-all tie with 2:04 left in the first half to give Michigan State the lead for good. The Spartans led 38-22 with 17:11 left and kept a comfortable cushion at the Breslin Center, where they haven't lost to Michigan since 2001.
"Michigan State is the program that sets the bar in the state of Michigan," said Barnes Arico, who came to the Wolverines this season from St. John's. "They have a great fan base, they have a great program and they have a rich tradition. And, they win."
Both teams were ranked in The Associated Press poll earlier this season - a first for Michigan in a decade - but Schiffauer was determined to inspire her teammates to send a message that the Spartans are still the team to beat in the rivalry.
The Spartans are off on Thursday before returning to action on Sunday at No. 8 Penn State. The game time is 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
POST GAME NOTES:
- The Spartans wore their pink uniforms tonight as part of their Play4Kay pink game.
- Tonight, Michigan State also held its National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Each of MSU's women's sports were honored at halftime.
- Michigan State improves to 61-15 in the series against Michigan, having won 12 in a row and 20 of the last 21 meetings. MSU is 32-6 all-time in East Lansing and have won 11 straight in Breslin Center.
- Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, MSU is now 37-1 against in-state opponents.
- Michigan State is 21-3 in the last four Februarys.
- MSU held Michigan to its second lowest point total of the season and its lowest in Big Ten play.
- The Spartans have held 20 of its 22 opponents below their season scoring average. Michigan entered the game averaging 62.4 points.
- Michigan entered the game sixth in the nation and No. 1 in the Big Ten with 6.8 3-pointers per game. MSU held them to 3-for-20 (15.0%) from the arc.
- Michigan's Kate Thompson entered the game ranked No. 2 nationally in 3-pointers (3.7) and No. 6 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.6%), but was held to 2-for-10 from behind the arc.
- The Spartans have held 21 of its 22 opponent's leading scorers below their season scoring average. Thompson was averaging 15.2 points entering the game.
- Kiana Johnson has led MSU in assists in six of the last seven games.
- Annalise Pickrel tied her career high with three blocks.
- Klarissa Bell tied for the team lead with four assists, her most in a Big Ten game this season.
- The Spartans improve to 155-4 all-time when holding a team under 50 points. MSU has held 12 teams under 50 points this season.
- Michigan State has won 74 of its last 75 games when leading with five minutes left. MSU is 116-5 under Merchant when doing so.
- The Spartans have won 41 of its last 47 games at Breslin Center and are 247-84 all-time in the building.
- Jasmine Thomas played her 119th career game as a Spartan, tying her for 16th all-time at MSU.