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Spartans Travel to Northwestern for Thursday Night Matchup

Jan. 16, 2008

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MICHIGAN STATE (10-8, 2-4) at NORTHWESTERN (4-13, 0-5)

Game Information
When: Thursday, Jan. 17 • 8 p.m. ET
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill.

Media Coverage
TV: No television coverage.
Radio: WVFN 730 AM and (Rick Berkey: Play-by-Play)
Internet: Gametracker at; Pay-per-view webcast at

Series History
Overall: MSU leads, 28-22
Last meeting: @ MSU 68, Northwestern 63 (2/15/07)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 211-128 (13th year)
At MSU: 10-8 (first year)

NU: Beth Combs (Illinois, 1992)
Overall: 67-127 (seventh year)
At Northwestern: 23-82 (fourth year)

Michigan State travels to Evanston, Ill., for a matchup against Northwestern Thursday at 8 p.m. in Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Spartans will be looking for their eighth consecutive victory over the Wildcats and fourth straight in Evanston. After hosting four of its first five Big Ten games, MSU is in the midst of a stretch of playing four of five on the road. Michigan State (10-8, 2-4 Big Ten) does return home Sunday, Jan. 20 to face Indiana at 2 p.m. before traveling to Illinois and Minnesota.

Northwestern is still searching for its first Big Ten win following a 77-55 home loss to Ohio State on Sunday. Much like the Spartans, the Wildcats (4-13, 0-5) have been hampered with injuries this season - seven players have missed game action this season due to injuries, including two with torn ACLs. Most recently, Sara Stutz suffered a partial left ACL tear in the Penn State game last Thursday. The Wildcats start two freshmen, both of whom are averaging more than 10 points a game. Center Amy Jaeschke scored 24 points in NU's last game against Ohio State and is averaging a team-best 11.8 points a game, while guard Meshia Reed is second with 10.7 ppg.

The Spartans had their nine-game winning streak over Michigan snapped Sunday afternoon at Crisler Arena as the Wolverines hit 12 3-pointers in the 64-55 victory. Sophomore center Lauren Aitch grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end, and senior guard Courtney Davidson scored 13 points to lead the Green and White.

Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan was limited to nine points and did not record a blocked shot for the first time in her career, but much of that was due to the fact that Michigan stayed on the perimeter throughout the game. The Wolverines, who lead the Big Ten in 3-pointers, shot 29 3-point attempts to just 20 2-point field goals. MSU outscored Michigan's bench, 25-0, including a career game from sophomore guard Takeya Fortner, who scored a career-high nine points in 31 minutes.

Allyssa DeHaan became MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots after recording five against Oklahoma on Dec. 16. She reached the mark in just 43 career games. Kristen Rasmussen previously held the record with 194 blocks in 118 career games. DeHaan is currently seventh in Big Ten history with 225 career blocks.

DeHaan, who set the Big Ten single-season record with 145 blocked shots her freshman year, is second in the nation with 80 blocks through 18 games (4.4 avg.). The NCAA single-season record for blocked shots is held by Amie Williams of Jackson State, who had 152 in 2003. Louella Tomlinson, a 6-4 freshman from St. Mary's (Calif.), is first in the nation with 87 blocks in 17 games (5.1 avg.).

The NCAA career record is 480, set by TCU's Sandora Irvin from 2002-05. Jessica Davenport of Ohio State owns the Big Ten career record with 384.

With three blocks at Providence on Dec. 20, DeHaan became the fastest player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 200-block milestone while playing in her freshman and sophomore seasons (44 games).

Allyssa DeHaan leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 15.2 points a game. She is tied for third in the Big Ten with four double-doubles and has scored in double-figures 13 times. She has four games with 20-plus points, which ranks fourth best in the league. DeHaan poured in a season-high 27 points at Wisconsin Jan. 2, the second-highest total of her career (career-high: 28 points vs. Rhode Island on Nov. 29, 2006).

• DeHaan has 80 blocked shots in 18 games, 41 more than Purdue's Danielle Campbell, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 39 blocks.
• In Big Ten games, Brittney Thomas is tied for first with 20 steals (Emily Fox, Minnesota).
• MSU leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage defense. Teams are only shooting 37.1 percent against the Spartans.
Brittney Thomas is third in the Big Ten with a 62.5 field-goal percentage in league games.

Sophomore guard Takeya Fortner played in just two of MSU's first 16 games, but in the last two, she has taken advantage of her opportunity. She played 16 minutes in the win over Iowa, all in the second half, helping spark a comeback with a career-high five points and a steal. She topped that effort in the next game at Michigan, registering career highs in minutes (31), points (nine) and steals (four). In the last two games, she is averaging 7.0 points and 23.5 minutes. Fortner scored 12 points in 18 games last season for the Spartans.

Freshman forward Kalisha Keane is second on the team in scoring this season and 11th in the Big Ten with 238 points (13.2 avg), which already ranks 16th in MSU's freshman record book. She has four double-doubles, which is tied for third most in the Big Ten, and has scored in double-figures 13 times.

Among Big Ten freshmen, Keane is tied for first in steals (2.0 avg.), first in free-throw percentage (.825), and second in scoring and rebounding (6.9 avg.).

The Ajax, Ontario, native is a natural small forward but is playing primarily at the power forward position due to the injury to Aisha Jefferson. She has the ability to post down low but also has excellent range with her jumper. Only 18, Keane played for Team Canada at the U21 FIBA World Championships in Moscow, Russia, and led the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg, which ranked 20th overall at the tournament.

Keane scored her 100th career point in MSU's eighth game of the season at Old Dominion, becoming the fourth player in Spartan history to reach the century mark in just eight games. Kris Emerson was the fastest, scoring her 100th point in just her sixth game during the 1983-84 season. Allyssa DeHaan was the second fastest, crossing the century mark in her seventh game last season, while Lindsay Bowen also scored her 100th point in her eighth game.

Freshman Brittney Thomas is gaining valuable experience in her first season as the starting point guard. The Bolingbrook, Ill., product has started every game and leads the team in minutes, averaging 34.7 a game, including four games in which she has played all 40 minutes.

Brittney Thomas leads all Big Ten freshmen in assists.

Thomas has shown the ability to be an excellent all-around player - she leads all Big Ten freshmen in assists (4.2 avg.) and steals (2.0 avg.) and ranks fifth in scoring (7.3 ppg). She leads all guards and is fourth among conference freshmen in rebounding with 5.0 a game. In Big Ten games, she ranks first in her class and third overall in field-goal percentage (62.5 percent through six games).

Before the season is done, Thomas' name will be throughout MSU's freshman record book. She already ranks fifth in assists with 75.

Michigan State is 5-1 in games when redshirt sophomore Lauren Aitch scores in double-figures. When the reserve center is limited to single-digits, MSU is just 5-7.

After Coach Merchant stressed the importance of rebounding going into the Big Ten season, the Spartans have responded, winning the battle of the boards in four of their last five games. MSU has been getting it done on the offensive side as well, averaging 16 offensive rebounds the past five games. The Spartans rank second in the Big Ten in defensive rebounds (26.2 avg.).

Michigan State's bench has outscored its opponents by 122 points this season (6.8 a game), and is averaging 20.4 points a game from its non-starters. Much of that total is coming from senior guard Courtney Davidson (7.9 ppg) and sophomore center Lauren Aitch (7.6 ppg).



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