Nov. 1, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Suzy Merchant Era got off to a good start as the Michigan State women's basketball team won its first game under its new coach, 72-42, over Grand Valley State Thursday night at the Breslin Center. Junior Aisha Jefferson led all players in the exhibition contest with 24 points and the Spartans outscored the visiting Lakers by 25 points in the second half.
MSU freshmen Kalisha Keane and Cetera Washington added 12 and nine points, respectively, in their Spartan debuts. Sophomore Lauren Aitch grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Grand Valley State was led by Taylor Silas' 14 points.
Jefferson set the tone early, scoring five points in the first two minutes to help MSU to an early 7-0 lead. Michigan State, ranked 18th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, would lead by as many as nine in the opening minutes before Grand Valley State pulled to within 17-15 at the nine-minute mark.
Lay-ups by Keane and Jefferson would put Michigan State up 30-20 with 2:09 remaining in the first stanza before the Lakers scored five straight points to pull within 30-25 at intermission.
MSU would pull away early in the second half, as lay-ups by Jefferson and Washington gave the Spartans a 41-25 lead with 14:37 remaining. Michigan State took a 20-point lead a minute later and would lead by as many as 26 when a three-point play by freshman Taja Wilson gave the Spartans a 59-33 lead with 7:14 remaining.
The Spartans clamped down on defense in the second half, holding the Lakers to 17 points on 24 percent shooting. MSU shot 59 percent in the second half and scored 26 points in the paint.
Jefferson finished 10-for-16 from the field and made all four of her free throws. She grabbed six rebounds and had six steals.
MSU, which was 24-9 last year, hosts an exhibition against Lake Superior State on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m.