Despite Strong Start, Spartans Fall to No. 9 Oklahoma
Dec. 16, 2007
Listen to Post-Game Press Conference:
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Oklahoma's Amanda Thompson surprised even herself, but her team's relentless rebounding didn't shock Michigan State on Sunday.
Thompson more than doubled her season averages with 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead a balanced attack and help the No. 9 Sooners overtake No. 21 Michigan State 66-55.
"I love to rebound the ball," the 6-foot Thompson said of her work amid much taller and wider players. "I didn't know I had 14 of them, though."
Teammate Courtney Paris had 13 points and 14 rebounds to stretch her NCAA-record streak of double-double performances to 68. The Sooners (7-2) broke a 53-53 tie with a 13-2 closing run and had a 47-31 rebounding advantage.
Ashley Paris, Courtney's twin sister, and Danielle Robinson each had 12 points for Oklahoma, which trailed by 11 at halftime. Jenna Plumley added eight points, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer, and five steals.
"We felt that could be a strength coming in," Sooners coach Sherri Coale said. "Danielle can guard just about anybody in America. Jenna flies around all over the place. And Amanda has great instincts. Her steals were maybe the ones that put us over the top."
Courtney Davidson came off the bench to lead the Spartans (7-3) with 18 points, including 13 in the second half. Alisa Wulff had 14 points and was 4-for-5 from 3-point range. But 6-foot-9 Allyssa DeHaan was held to 10 points and five rebounds, well below her season averages. She did have five blocked shots to set a school career record with 198 less than halfway through her sophomore year.
"We had this game if we'd done what we should have done on the boards," DeHaan said. "It's sad we have to relearn that over and over and over. There's only so much the coaches can tell us. Rebounding is heart and desire. Oklahoma wanted it more."
Michigan State used an 11-0 run and aggressive help defense in the post to build a 24-15 lead. Wulff, who came in averaging 3.3 points, scored her team's first eight.
Trailing 28-17 at the break, Oklahoma answered by extending its defense and taking full advantage of Michigan State's turnovers. The Sooners finally drew even at 40, then fell behind again at 52-44. But the Spartans managed just three points in the final 6:42 while six Oklahoma players scored.
"We feel very fortunate to come out with the win," Coale said. "Obviously, it's no news flash that we played very poorly in the first half. We had no rhythm and no pop at either end of the floor. The first five minutes of the second half completely changed the complexion of the game."
The Sooners shot 64.5 percent from the field in the second half after hitting just 23.5 percent in the first. Many of those baskets came on second and third chances as Thompson had seven of her team's 21 offensive rebounds.
Kalisha Keane had eight rebounds for Michigan State but was her team's only player with more than five. Fellow freshman Brittney Thomas didn't score and showed her inexperience at point guard. As in the Spartans' other two losses, they had more turnovers (18) than assists (13).
"The difference was our inability to rebound the ball," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "They did a great job on the glass. We talked to our kids about the first five minutes of the second half and not turning the ball over. They had a two-minute layup drill. Even with our turnovers, we built the lead again. But we didn't rebound the ball. We stood there and watched it."
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