Michigan State 57, Purdue 55
 
 
 

 

 
 

March 1, 2009

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Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

On getting the win...
I thought that it was a game we had to have and it was for a lot of different reasons, some a little more obvious than others. I think that the biggest thing that we talked about was getting respect. I just felt like people were kind of counting us out. We had the toughest finish of anyone that was playing. Purdue was on a winning streak. It was almost like people were already giving us a loss. I know we've had some adversity but we found a way. I thought that we did a great job defensively. We had some great shots and rebounds. We had some good things happen for us and we made them happen.

I definitely felt that it was kind of a do-or-die situation for us. We were extremely disappointed with the game against Minnesota and the effort here at home. We felt that they were the aggressive ones and we were extremely tentative. We were not going to go down without putting our gloves on and swinging. I have seen us fight and I believed we could do it. I think that the kids really believed that they could do it too. Having that veteran group that sat in a room last year and didn't hear their name called was important to us.

On the Spartan defense...
One thing that has picked us up all year is our defense. That is why we started Cetera Washington today. We weren't going to let things get away. We figured that it could be an ugly low-scoring game and we will take that because that's how ours have been. All-in-all I was very pleased with how things transpired. We focused and created some defensive stops that created some offense for us.

On Mia Johnson...
She hit a couple of huge shots. I know that it's not beautiful basketball but she's doing the best that she can. She is just feisty and tough and, if someone is going to try and take it from her, she is going to give it back to them. The thing that we get from Mia is composure. She will tell you where to go and what to do. She won't let anybody show her up. That is exactly what we need right now. Being a senior, to go out on her home court and hit the shots that she hit is what every kid dreams about in a uniform.

On Lauren Aitch's game winning shot...
We went to Allyssa DeHaan and, obviously, they knew we were going to go to her. We had worked on that post-up double shot a lot. The one thing about Lauren is that she has just had a great year mentally and physically, too. She has just been such a ray of light, hope, leadership and inspiration for the team and she was just really ready to play. She had a great game against them down there. That is one of Lauren's best and favorite shots and one that we take a lot in practice.

Purdue Head Coach Sharon Versyp

On their defense for the last play of the game...
It was just man-to-man defense. They had a good look, and we contested it but not as good as we should of. We were thinking they were going to go inside, but instead knocked down a tough shot.

On who they thought was going to get the shot...
Anyone could have been the first option. We are always looking to double (Allyssa DeHaan) anyway, and they were looking for her but she was not open. They kicked it out of someone else and we were just a little late getting there to contest the shot. Her hand was there, but we were really not that close to her.

On the intensity of the game...
I think there should be six teams (from the Big Ten) that should get into the NCAA Tournament, so for us every time we go to a great environment like Minnesota or Michigan State, we are focusing on the NCAA Tournament. It was an NCAA Tournament atmosphere with great intensity and both teams made a lot of runs. Both teams made some plays, and both teams also made some bad plays so it was kind of back and forth, but I though it was a good game in regards to that.

On being only down one point at halftime despite the turnovers...
I thought Michigan State played well, but we had no rhythm, no nothing during the game. Part of it was Michigan State but part of it was our failure to catch the basketball and if you can't catch the basketball you can't really do much. I thought we were in great shape up to that point and then we got up by six points and then threw the ball out of bounds twice in a row. That is just unacceptable, and when you have those turnovers that is just the end. You coach that you want to be able to break a team and that was the time we need to break their team, and we didn't. We could have been up by 10 points, but you have to learn from that. We had 12 turnovers in the post alone, and I'm not totally putting it on the post play but you just can't have 12 turnovers. Two of your post players cannot have six turnovers a piece and that was the key to the game and nothing else. I just really feel the turnovers are what killed us and if we don't value the ball it will continue to kill us.

On Lakisha Freeman...
Kiki played a phenomenal game. She was seven-for-nine and took it to the hole and did everything we asked her to on the defensive and offensive end. She really wanted the game and you could tell that by how hard she played. That is what we need from her, we need her to knock down those shots, and she had great elevation and really took it to the hole. She and Brittany (Rayburn) were the only ones that really took it to the hole today and I thought we were able to capitalize on that. Kiki should be one of the top defensive players in the country, and I don't know if she will even be recognized for that but she does such a great and consistent job for us day in and day out.

On what this type of game does for their team in preparation for post season...
This is absolutely preparation for the post season. Like I said, this game was like an NCAA Tournament atmosphere, Michigan State does host this year, and that is what we are trying to prepare for. It's an us against the world mentality; know you are going to be playing with a tough crowd so just really having that focus of making plays. We have done everything fine the last five games except value the basketball, and that is all it came down to today. The turnovers we had today were awful. We threw the ball out of bounds and couldn't catch the ball five different times. There are good turnovers and bad turnovers, and we had really bad turnovers today.