Dec. 21, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Michigan State women's basketball team battles back, wins Big Ten Conference opener at Penn State, 67-60, today at Bryce Jordan Arena. Trailing, 51-43 with 9:23 remaining, the Spartans closed the game on a 24-9 run, including the last seven points, for their first road win of the season. MSU, now 8-4 overall, has won five of its last six Big Ten openers.
Junior Allyssa DeHaan led the way with 14 points, a season-high nine rebounds and three blocks, while redshirt senior Mia Johnson and redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson added 11 apiece. The Spartans are now 5-0 this season and 15-1 overall when both DeHaan and Jefferson score in double-figures. Sophomore Brittney Thomas led the team in assists for the seventh time in 10 games, tying her career-high with eight, while playing a season-best 38 minutes. Redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson tallied a career-best nine points for the bench for the Spartans.
Michigan State opened the game with the first eight points, holding Penn State scoreless for the first 3:38. The Nittany Lions responded with 11 unanswered of their own, until a Kalisha Keane layup brought the score to 11-10 with 11:58 on the clock. PSU would stretch its lead out to 16-12, but MSU would run off 10-straight, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Mia Johnson, over a span of 3:15 to take a 22-16 with 5:50 left. The streaky half continued as Penn State matched the Spartans' 10-0 run with one of its own, going up 28-24 with 2:07 left. A pair of 3-pointers from Lykendra and Mia Johnson gave MSU back the lead (30-28), but two layups from PSU's Tyra Grant in the final minute, including one as time expired, gave PSU a 32-30 advantage going into the break. MSU had 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes of the first half, but closed the final 12 minutes with only two.
Penn State scored the first two points of the second half and held at least a three point lead up to the seven minute mark left in regulation. The Nittany Lions' lead would get as large as eight with 9:23 left, but they would shoot only 3-of-14 down the stretch and the Spartans would close the game with a 24-9 run for the win. The final 9:23 began with five-straight points for MSU, but off an offensive rebound Brianne O'Rourke would knock down a 3-pointer to give PSU a six point lead (54-48) with 7:33 left. Over the next 3:19, Michigan State would run off 10-straight to take their first lead since late in the first half. The run was sparked by foue points apiece from DeHaan and Lykendra Johnson. PSU's Tyra Grant posted back-to-back layups to tie the game for the sixth time at 60 with 2:50 on the clock. The second layup proved to be the last points for the Nittany Lions, as the Spartans scored the final seven points of the game for the 67-60 win.
DeHaan scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the second half. The Spartans shot 54.5% from the field as a team in the second half and held PSU to 1-of-9 shooting from behind the arc. After not attempting a free throw in the first half, MSU went 13-of-19 in the final 20 minutes.
Tyra Grant posted a game-high 22 points, while Brianne O'Rourke added 18 for the Nittany Lions.
The Spartans return to the court in eight days, hosting Indiana on Monday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on BigTenNetwork.com.
NOTES: Michigan State is now 13-15 all-time in conference openers ... It was the Spartans second straight win at Penn State, after losing their first 13 opportunities ... First MSU win when trailing at the half ... MSU has held the starting post players below their combined season averages in its last nine games (Rashida Mark and Julie Trugele average 10.5 points, but scored only four today) ... They held PSU to 23.5% (4-of-17) from 3-point range (PSU entered today shooting 34.1% on the season) ... MSU is 8-0 when holding its opponents under 30% from behind the arc ... DeHaan led the team in scoring for the third time; MSU is 3-0 this season when she leads them in scoring ... MSU is 42-14 when she scores in double-figures in her career ... The Spartans are 7-0 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage than their opponent and 6-0 when they make more 3-pointers ... MSU is 16-4 when Mia Johnson scores 10+ points in her career ... Jefferson is 9-of-11 from the field in the last two games ... Sophomore Kalisha Keane had four steals for the third time this season ... Only five Penn State players scored ... The Spartan starters combined for a season-best 147 minutes ... Michigan State held a 43-35 edge on the boards and are 5-1 when they outrebound the opposition.