Feb. 19, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Porsche Poole led the offense, but Michigan State's depth and defense made the difference in a record-smashing 52-27 win over Michigan on Thursday.
Poole, a freshman guard, had 14 points off the bench and provided a quicker tempo for the balanced Spartans (19-7, 12-3 Big Ten), who began the night in a first-place tie with Ohio State.
"I love pushing the ball and playing fast," Poole said after her team's 10th win in its last 11 games. "That's what happened tonight. And you could tell they were getting frustrated."
Michigan State, the league leader in virtually every defensive category, improved on those numbers as Michigan shot 18.8 percent from the field, 14.8 percent in the second half.
"I was frustrated, and they were frustrated," Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. "But it was a 2-3 zone, c'mon!"
Veronica Hicks and Jessica Minnfield each had seven points for the Wolverines (10-16, 3-12). Even with nine of the first 12 points and five in the final minute, Michigan had the lowest output in Breslin Center history.
"I thought we had a good plan coming in," Borseth said. "We scored nine points in the first couple of minutes, then nothing after that. We tried everything, maybe too much."
The Spartans just tried to do what they have done the past seven weeks, share the ball and deny good shots. That was especially important when their top two scorers, Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan, scored four and three points, respectively.
"Somebody always seems to step up," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "Our kids are so resilient. And our bench was spectacular."
"Any of us can lead the team in scoring any night," Johnson said. "And Porsche is really coming along. She's going to be one heckuva player."
Poole, Johnson and Washington outscored Michigan 30-27 and had 12 baskets to the Wolverines' nine. The taller Spartans also enjoyed a 44-31 edge on the boards.
"They're good, very good," Borseth said. "We can't get around them and can't get a shot off. It was size ... size. They're really big kids."
Jefferson said the big difference was less about size than some may have thought.
"It's not about height," Jefferson said. "We've lost games with this height, too. This game was about our defense and making people miss."
Michigan missed 39 shots in 48 attempts. That led to the lowest ouput for any Michigan State opponent since Notre Dame scored 23 in 1975, the same total the Wolverines had with :48 left.
"Any win is always big," Merchant said. "But this was Michigan. They're such a big rival. I'm sure they'd feel the same way if it was the other way around."