March 23, 2013
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Late in a sleepy and sloppy first half, Annalise Pickrel came off the bench and started hitting shots.
Three 3-pointers and a baseline drive for a layup. Eleven points in a 13-0 run for fifth-seeded Michigan State, providing a cushion the Spartans would need in the second half against a mid-major known for its first-round upsets.
Pickrel finished with 14 points Saturday, making up for off-days from starters Becca Mills and Klarissa Bell, as the Spartans beat 12th-seeded Marist 55-47.
``I felt pretty confident at that point,'' Pickrel said. ``I felt I could pick up some slack that was happening.''
There was plenty of slack to be found in a game full of oddities. Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half. Neither team made a field goal in the final 3 minutes of either half. Marist finished with only one offensive rebound. After Pickrel's surge gave Michigan State a 25-16 halftime lead, the Spartans allowed the Red Foxes to get back in front with a flurry of 3-pointers, prompting coach Suzy Merchant to call timeout and deliver a very simple message.
``We just hand our hands down,'' Merchant said. ``They had three 3s when our hands were down, so it was an easy fix.''
The Spartans (25-8) gradually pulled away after that and advanced to the second round for the eighth time in nine NCAA appearances, a streak interrupted by a loss to Louisville on the same College Park court a year ago. Michigan State will play fourth-seeded Maryland, a 72-52 winner over Quinnipiac, on Monday on the fourth-seeded Terrapins' home court.
Kiana Johnson scored 16 points, and Jasmine Thomas had 10 for the Spartans. Bell and Mills had just two apiece, a stat sheet that normally would have please Marist coach Brian Giorgis.
``And all of a sudden,'' Giorgis said, ``Pickrel comes up.''
Casey Dulin scored 13 points to lead the Red Foxes (26-7), who have made a name for themselves by winning first-round games as double-digit seeds, advancing to the second round as a No. 13 a year ago and as a No. 10 in 2011. They also advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 14 in 2007 and entered this year's NCAAs with a 21-game winning streak, sweeping both the regular season and tournament in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
``Probably everybody in the field, when you see your name come up there and you see Marist come up there, you know you maybe drew the unlucky number because they are a very, very good team,'' Merchant said. ``We also know their history.''
Except for the 3-point spree early in the second half, though, Marist couldn't generate much offense. Late in the first half, after a couple of shot-clock meltdowns, Giorgis yelled out to his team: ``Nobody wants to shoot!''
``That was the thing that was so frustrating at the time,'' Giorgis said. ``It was like `Guys, you're playing scared.' ... I didn't know what team was there playing in the first half.''
POST GAME NOTES:
- Michigan State improves to 16-12 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 10-2 record in the first round.
- MSU has advanced to at least the second round in eight of its last nine tournament appearances.
- The Spartans are now 3-2 all-time as a No. 5 seed.
- Coach Merchant improves to 5-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
- The Spartan win snapped Marist's 21-game winning streak, it was the fifth longest active streak in the nation.
- It was first all-time meeting between Marist and Michigan State.
- The Spartans are now 8-1 this season and 46-14 under Coach Merchant following a loss.
- The Spartans have held four of its last five opponents under 50 points, and have held a school-record 18 teams under 50 points this season.
- MSU's 47 points allowed are the third fewest by a Spartan team in the NCAA Tournament.
- Annalise Pickrel went 4-for-8 from the 3-point line. She moved into eighth place on the MSU single-season 3-point list (63) and 12th on the MSU career 3-point list (82).
- Klarissa Bell, Kiana Johnson and Jasmine Thomas played all 40 minutes.
- Bell moved into fifth on the MSU single-season minutes played list (1,173) and Thomas is now sixth (1,162).
- Thomas has played 348 of the possible 360 minutes over the last nine games.
- Thomas scored in double figures for the ninth straight game, the longest stretch in her career.
- Johnson has led MSU in assists in 13 of the last 18 games. Her six assists are tied for the eighth most by a Spartan in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Over the last four games, Johnson has 19 assists and only four turnovers (4.8 assist-to-turnover ratio).
- Bell had a game-high 11 rebounds. Her total tied for the eighth most by a Spartan in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Johnson and Pickrel each hit four 3-pointers. The total is tied for the second most by a Spartan in an NCAA Tournament game.
- Johnson's four 3-pointers tied her career high.
- Michigan State tied its season-high with nine 3-pointers (going 9-for-24). The Spartans made only 11 total 3-pointers in their three games at the Big Ten Tournament.
- MSU's nine 3-pointers are the most by a Spartan team in the NCAA Tournament (previous record was eight).
- The Spartans have now made 176 3-pointers this season, tying for the third-most in a MSU single-season.
- Michigan State has held 28 of its 33 opponent's leading scorers below its season average. Marist's Elizabeth Beynnon (12.2 points per game) was held to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting.
- The Spartans have held 29 of their 33 opponents below their scoring average. Marist entered the game averaging 64.4 points.
- MSU outrebounded Marist 30-25, and held the Red Foxes to only one offensive rebound.
- The Spartans have won 81 of its last 82 games when leading with five minutes left.
- Courtney Schiffauer played her 124th career game, moving her into a tie for 14th all-time at MSU.
- MSU won for the first time on March 23, having lost its first four games on this date.