Feb. 26, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Michigan State women's basketball team closed out the Big Ten regular season on Sunday afternoon, beating Northwestern 76-57 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Spartans, who has won seven of their last eight games, finish in a four-way tie for second in the conference at 11-5. MSU will be the fifth seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, playing Indiana on Thursday night at approximately 8:30 p.m.
MSU has finished second or better in each of the last four seasons - winning the outright title last year, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12.
Senior Lykendra Johnson pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, becoming the second Spartan and the 13th Big Ten player to reach 1,000 in her career. Johnson also added 14 points in the return to her home city, topping 1,200 career points and moving into 11th on the MSU career list (1,206).
Senior Porsche Poole had her fifth 20-point effort in the last nine games, and led MSU with 22 points, while also adding six rebounds and three assists. Freshman Becca Mills had 12 points in 18 minutes off the bench, while classmate Kiana Johnson posted 10 points, four assists and three steals.
The first half featured six ties and 14 lead changes, before the Spartans closed the half on a 6-2 run to take a 33-29 lead into the break.
Michigan State opened up the second half on a 14-3 run over the first five and a half minutes, which extended to a 25-6 spurt over the first 10:22 of the half. The Spartans opened a 23-point lead (59-35) with the run, but it was eventually cut to nine (62-53) with 4:04 left. However, MSU bounced back by scoring 13 of the next 15 points to put the game away and close it out with free throws in the final minute.
MSU shot 51.7% in the second half, led by Poole's 16 points after the intermission.
For the game, the Spartans held a +11 margin on the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats 43-32.
-Michigan State has won 17 straight games against Northwestern, and 27 of the last 29 meetings.
- The Spartans have won seven in a row in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
- Michigan State ends Big Ten play, leading the conference in fewest points allowed (60.6). It is the third straight season that MSU has led the league in points allowed.
- MSU has won 33 straight games when scoring at least 70 points, and improve to 50-4 under Coach Merchant when reaching that number.
- Under Coach Merchant, MSU is 88-8 when allowing 60 or fewer points, including winning its last 12.
- Today was L. Johnson's 128th career game played, tying her for the 10th most in MSU history.
- K. Johnson moved into third place on the MSU freshman assist list with 118.
- K. Johnson ended Big Ten games, tying for second in assists with 4.7 a game and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7).
- Anna Morrissey scored her first career point as a Spartan with a free throw in the final minute.