Feb. 20, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women's basketball overcame a slow offensive start to beat Northwestern, 54-45 tonight at Breslin Center. The Spartans won their 20th game of the season, reaching the 20-win plateau for the 10th-consecutive season, the longest active streak in the Big Ten.
MSU (20-6, 8-5) was led by 15 points from sophomore Becca Mills, while senior Jasmine Thomas filled the stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a career-high three blocks. Sophomore Kiana Johnson led the Spartans with six assists and three steals.
The Spartans were cold from the field in opening of the game, falling behind 16-6, after shooting 3-for-19 in the first 12:40. For the second time this season against the Wildcats - MSU trailed NU 10-0 in Evanston on Jan. 31 - the Spartans overcame a double-digit deficit. The Spartans closed the first half on a 14-3 run over the final 5:33 to take a 27-25 lead into the break.
Northwestern scored the first four points of the second half and held MSU scoreless for the initial four-and-a-half minutes, to retake the lead at 29-27. After going back-and-forth on a couple possessions, Michigan State put together a 16-2 run over a span of 9:40 to open up a 48-35 lead with under four minutes to go. During the run, MSU held Northwestern to 1-for-10 shooting, while junior Annalise Pickrel tallied eight-straight points for the Spartans at one point. The Wildcats kept fighting until the final seconds, but two free throws apiece by Johnson and junior Klarissa Bell in the final 22 seconds iced it.
Michigan State won its 19th straight game over Northwestern. It is currently the longest active streak in the Big Ten against another conference school. The Spartans have also won 17 in a row over the Wildcats at Breslin Center.
MSU won despite shooting 32.2% on the night. The Spartan defense held NU to 37.3% from the field, including 2-for-15 (13.3%) from 3-point. MSU also forced 17 turnovers and controlled the boards, 43-34.
The Spartans return to action on Monday, traveling to Ohio State for 6:30 p.m. tip on Big Ten Network.
- All-time it was MSU's 14th 20-win season.
- Head coach Suzy Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, and has reached 20 wins 10 times in her coaching career.
- Michigan State needed 26 games this season to get to 20 wins; it tied for the third fastest in school history. The 2004-05 and 2010-11 teams needed only 23 games, while the 1977-78, 1996-97 and 2006-07 squads also reach the number in 26 games.
- In addition to winning 19 straight over NU, the Spartans have also won 29 of the last 31 meetings and lead the all-time series 40-22.
- Michigan State has now held 14 teams under 50 points this season, tying the 1973-74 team for the most in the single season.
- MSU is 20-0 this season, and has won 76 of its last 77 games when leading with five minutes to go.
- The Spartans improved to 6-1 this season and 44-14 under Coach Merchant following a loss.
- Over the last three games, Kiana Johnson has 15 assists and only three turnovers, while Jasmine Thomas over her last four games, has 15 assists and only four turnovers.
- Johnson tied her season high, playing all 40 minutes.