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Spartans Open Exhibition Play with 94-31 Win Over Lake Superior State

Freshman Kiana Johnson led the Spartans with 11 assists on Thursday night.

Nov. 3, 2011

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Suzy Merchant's Post Game Press Conference
Taylor Alton | Annalise Pickrel | Madison Williams

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 2011-12 season opened in grand fashion for the Michigan State women's basketball team on Thursday night, as it beat Lake Superior State, 94-31 in an exhibition game at the Breslin Center. Thirteen different Spartans scored tonight, led by 13 points from senior captain Taylor Alton and 12 from sophomore Annalise Pickrel.

"It's about building an identity, and that's what we're trying to do," said MSU head coach Suzy Merchant. "I talk about that from a team's perspective. What kind of team are we going to be? And the second piece is what kind of identity are you going to have as a player? These games are meant for them to perform and the kids that can perform and do it at both ends and be consistent are going to play. There were some kids that performed really well for us. That is what I'm looking for."

The Spartans opened the game on a 33-1 run over the first 13:49. During the stretch, LSSU missed its first 15 shots from the field and turned the ball over 13 times. However, the Lakers settled down to play even with MSU (22-22) over the next 11 minutes, spanning both halves.

MSU led 42-8 at the half.

With the score 55-23 early in the second half, Michigan State would not let LSSU get any closer, going on a 36-5 run over the next 11:25, capped by 15-unanswered points. The Spartans cruised to the 94-31 final.

Alton went 3-of-6 from behind the arc and grabbed six rebounds in addition to her game-high 13 points. Junior Jasmine Thomas, who started at point guard, had nine points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes.

Four freshmen made impressive impacts in their first game in green and white. Kiana Johnson led the Spartans with 11 assists (and no turnovers) in 23 minutes, also adding eight points, three rebounds and three steals. Becca Mills, making the start, scored eight points and had four steals in 20 minutes, while Jasmine Hines, posted eight points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. Madison Williams, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, had four points, a game-high eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 14 minutes of action.

As a team, the Spartans shot 42.7% from the field, including 40.0% (8-of-20) from behind the arc, while holding LSSU to 23.1% shooting. MSU forced 37 Laker turnovers, while turning it over only 10 times. The Spartans held a 54-41 edge on the board.

The Spartans close out exhibition action on Sunday, when they host Grand Valley State at 2 p.m.



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