March 18, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State shook off the rust, then wore down Delaware.
Allyssa DeHaan had 13 points, nine rebounds and six blocks to lead the fifth-seeded Spartans to a 69-58 win over the No. 12 Blue Hens on Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
"There were some kinks we had to work out," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I think we got a little bit better, and I'm excited about Tuesday night."
Michigan State (24-8), playing at home, advanced to face Rutgers (23-8).
Tyresa Smith scored 19, Chrissy Fisher had 13 and Kyle DeHaven added 12 points for Delaware (26-6), which tied a school record for wins and played in the NCAA tournament for the second time. The Blue Hens lost to N.C. State in 2001.
"We have a lot of pride," Delaware coach Tina Martin said. "Eleven years ago when I came here, Delaware wasn't a very good program. We've been to two NCAAs now, and we're going to work really hard to get there a third time."
"I love our balance," McCallie said. "I think we can build on it. I always want to have six players in double figures. So, we're getting there."
Michigan State looked rusty in the first half, playing for the first time in two weeks. "There's no excuses to come out that slow," DeHaan said.
The Spartans missed 21 of 29 shots and had 11 turnovers by halftime, but their defense allowed them to keep the lead before wearing down the Blue Hens in the second half.
Michigan State sent waves of players, including the 6-foot-9 DeHaan at Delaware, which leaned on only six players to play most of the game.
The Spartans closed the first half with an 8-0 run, going ahead 1:25 before halftime for the eighth lead change and didn't trail again.
Lucas-Perry's 3-pointer and Laura Hall's three-point play gave the Spartans a 50-36 lead midway through the second half and they easily maintained the cushion.
"In the second half, we came out with a lot more energy," Lucas-Perry said. "We can't afford to start like we did again."
Michigan State, an at-large team from the Big Ten, is playing in the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year and has won four straight first-round games.
The Spartans clearly have plenty of experience this time of year, with Perry and Haynes tying a school record by playing in their 12th NCAA tournament game. Both helped Michigan State advance to the 2005 national championship game.
Delaware, one of a Colonial Athletic Association-record three teams in the NCAA tournament, was confident entering Sunday's game. The Blue Hens twice beat Hofstra, which won at Michigan State last November.
"We kept it close for the most part," Martin said. "Their size and rebounding eventually wore us down."
The Blue Hens played with a lot of energy early, jumping into passing lanes with an aggressive defense that gave opponents problems all season.
"They were all over the place," Lucas-Perry said. "The way they played defense so tough will really help us the rest of the tournament."
Delaware scored 11 points off turnovers in the first half, accounting for more than half its points, but shooting worse than 20 percent in the first half hurt its hopes for an upset.
"They played great defense," Smith said. "They had a couple of real athletic guards."
Despite struggling offensively, Michigan State led 25-20 at halftime.
Bill Laimbeer, coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo were among the 6,780 faces in the crowd.
"It was awesome to see as many fans as we had here," DeHaan said. "We'll get that experience one last time this season."