Spartans Topple No. 4 Tar Heels, 72-66
 
 
 
Michigan State's Aisha Jefferson, right, maneuvers for a shot and draws a foul from North Carolina's Tierra Ruffin-Pratt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
 
Michigan State's Aisha Jefferson, right, maneuvers for a shot and draws a foul from North Carolina's Tierra Ruffin-Pratt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
 
 

Dec. 3, 2009

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MSU Post-Game Press Conference

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Allyssa DeHaan admitted she was a little frustrated foul trouble limited her to just 2 minutes of scoreless play in the first half Thursday.

The Michigan State center made the most of her time in the second half, scoring 14 points and helping No. 22 Michigan State to a 72-66 win over previously unbeaten No. 4 North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Lauren Aitch had 15 points for the Spartans (5-2), and Aisha Jefferson had 13.

"We just knew we could get it, if we all came out hard," DeHaan said of the physical contest.

Italee Lucas scored 29 points for North Carolina (5-1). She sparked the Tar Heels' second half comeback and finished the night shooting 10 of 21 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range. Cetera DeGraffenreid had 13 points for North Carolina.

Michigan State led by 11 points in the second half before North Carolina rallied to take a 64-63 lead on Trinity Bursey's 3-pointer with about 2:30 left.

DeHaan's jumper with 2:11 left put Michigan State back ahead for good, 65-64.

"It was pretty intense out there, both sides," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "I was proud of how we responded to that."

North Carolina has a squad loaded with freshmen, sophomores and juniors. It showed early as the Tar Heels missed their first six shots and trailed 10-3 early.

But North Carolina settled down and went on a 11-0 run to take a 14-10 lead midway through the half. The Tar Heels' pressure defense caused 10 Michigan State turnovers in the game's first 13 minutes.

"That was our first real test of the season," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "This will make us better."

Michigan State shot 48 percent from the floor and edged North Carolina on the boards, 42-39.

The pace of the game was hectic with lots of turnovers. Michigan State had 27 while North Carolina committed 24.

North Carolina has an all-time record of 22-11 against Big Ten teams, including a 3-1 mark against Michigan State. The Tar Heels were making their first visit to East Lansing.