Feb. 6, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill - Unexpected offensive efforts helped lead the Michigan State women's basketball team to a 63-50 win over Illinois on Thursday night in Assembly Hall. Freshmen Courtney Schiffauer and Porsche Poole combined for 21 points and five assists as the Spartans (16-7 overall) are now alone in second in the Big Ten at 9-3.
Schiffauer set the pace in the first half with 10 of her 12 points, as she also added five rebounds and two assists in a season-high 33 minutes. Poole meanwhile, also played a season-high minute total (21) and went 4-of-5 from the field for nine points and dished out a season-high three assists. Both point totals were their highest since their collegiate debuts. Redshirt juniors Aisha Jefferson and Lauren Aitch led the way, each with a team-high 14 points. Jefferson also added a team-best eight rebounds, while Aitch, who's point total was her best in conference play, grabbed four boards and was efficient from the field, going 7-of-9. Sophomore Brittney Thomas played 40 minutes for the second-straight game and distributed a game-high seven assists, her second best total of the season.
MSU is also 5-2 on the road in conference action, marking a tie for the fourth most road league wins in program history. The 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2006-07 MSU teams each won six road Big Ten games.
Illinois scored the first point of the game on a Macie Blinn free throw less than a minute in, but the Spartans would control the game from there. A Jefferson jumper 1:54 into the game began a 10-0 MSU run, as the Spartans held the Fighting Illini without a field goal until a Jenna Smith jumper brought the score to 10-3 with 13:13 to go in the half. During the span, MSU forced seven Illinois turnovers and allowed only one shot attempt. The Smith basket began a run of nine consecutive points for the Illini that tied the game at 10 with 11:25 on the clock.
A pair of 5-0 runs by the Spartans were sandwiched around four-straight points by Illinois to give Michigan State a 20-14 with just over five minutes to go in the first half. Then, with the score 22-18, MSU began a 14-0 run to close out the final 4:26 of the half. Jefferson, Aitch and Poole each contributed four points, while Poole also added two assists in the closing run, which also featured five Illinois turnovers. For the half, the Illini had 16 turnovers, eight of which came on MSU steals.
Illinois started the second half strong, scoring the first six points and 11 of the first 13, to close the gap to nine (38-29) with 15:10 to go in regulation. The Illini got within seven (47-40), but Michigan State put in the final dagger with the next six points to expand its lead to 53-40 with 4:32 on the clock. From there, the Spartans would close out the game for the 63-50 final.
The Spartans shot 49.1% from the field, their best mark in Big Ten play this season and their best since they shot 62.2% in the fifth game of the season against Quinnipiac (Nov. 23).
Michigan State returns to the Breslin Center on Sunday to welcome No. 14/12 Ohio State. The battle of the top two teams in the Big Ten is schedule to begin at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
NOTES: Michigan State is 7-0 on Thursday this season and have won 11 straight on Thursdays dating back to last season ... MSU is 13-0 when holding its opponent under 60 points this season ... The Spartans have won 10 of the last 12 meetings against Illinois and have won six of their last seven games in Assembly Hall ... MSU is 8-1 when shooting over 43% from the field ... The Spartans are 12-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage than their opponent and 8-0 when making more shots from beyond the arc ... Michigan State had a 32-14 edge in points off turnovers and are 13-1 this season when creating more points than its opponent ... DeHaan with her two blocks ties Trish Andrew (Michigan) for second on the Big Ten career block list and 15th on the NCAA tally ... DeHaan also moved into 10th place on the MSU career rebounding list with 670 ... MSU held Illinois to 1-of-8 (12.5%) shooting from 3-point range, setting season-lows in makes and percentage for the Spartan defense ...The Spartans have allowed only 79 points in the last four first halves (19.8 per half) ... MSU is 28-11 when Jefferson scores in double-figures in her career and 16-6 when Aitch does ... The Spartans have won all four games in which Schiffauer has scored double-digits.