Women's Basketball Closes Regular Season Thursday Against Illinois

Feb. 26, 2008

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MICHIGAN STATE (17-12, 9-8) vs. ILLINOIS (15-12, 7-9)

Game Information
When: Thursday, Feb. 28 • 7 p.m.
Where: Breslin Center • East Lansing, Mich.
Promotion: "Fan Appreciation Night" - wear any Michigan State apparel and get in free.

Media Coverage
TV: No television coverage.
Radio: WVFN 730 AM and msuspartans.com (Rick Berkey: Play-by-Play)
Live Stats: Gametracker at msuspartans.com

Series History
Overall: MSU leads, 30-25
Last meeting: MSU 65, @ Illinois 62 (1/24/08)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 218-132 (13th year)
At MSU: 17-12 (first year)

ILL: Jolette Law (Iowa, 1990)
Overall: 15-12 (first year)
At Illinois: same

The regular season comes to a close Thursday as the Michigan State women's basketball team hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. in the Breslin Center. With only one game separating five teams in the conference standings, Thursday's meeting between the Spartans and Fighting Illini will play a key part in the league race as MSU looks for a top-five finish and a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Spartans (17-12) are currently in seventh place with a 9-8 conference mark after their four-game winning streak was snapped Sunday in a loss at Purdue, 69-59. While Michigan State finishes the regular season on Thursday, all of the other Big Ten teams will be in action on Sunday.

Illinois (15-12) is also looking to improve its seed in the conference tournament. The Fighting Illini are in ninth place at 7-9 after losing at home to Michigan on Sunday, 55-52.

MSU defeated Illinois in the first meeting of the season, 65-62, Jan. 24 in Assembly Hall. Allyssa DeHaan hit her second career game-winning shot to help propel the Spartans to victory. With the score tied at 62, MSU got the ball in the post to DeHaan, who missed her first two shots, but put the third attempt up and in with 11 seconds remaining, giving the Spartans a 64-62 lead. Mia Johnson led the Spartans with a season-high 20 points.

Courtney Davidson

Michigan State will honor its two seniors, Courtney Davidson and Alisa Wulff, prior to the Illinois game for Senior Night. Davidson and Wulff are both having their most productive seasons at MSU in their last year wearing the Green and White. Davidson is averaging 7.3 points and leads the team with 38 3-pointers, while Wulff has started 18 games and has drained 23 3-pointers.

• Michigan State leads the all-time series against Illinois, 30-25.

• MSU has won eight of the last nine meetings, including a 65-62 victory Jan. 24 in Champaign.

• The Spartans are 17-8 against Illinois in games played at the Breslin Center.

• Illinois is looking for its first win in East Lansing since 2003.

• With a Spartan win over Illinois, MSU would have 10 conference wins for the sixth straight season.

Allyssa DeHaan has 437 points, just 10 shy of cracking the top 15 list for top scorers in a MSU single-season. DeHaan scored 411 points in 33 games last season.

Kalisha Keane is moving up in several categories in MSU's freshman record book. She is looking to break Allyssa DeHaan's scoring record of 411 points set last season. Keane is currently fifth with 362 points, trailing Kris Emerson (363), Nicole Cushing (372), Lindsay Bowen (386) and DeHaan.

• With one regular-season game remaining, the Spartans are in seventh place with a 9-8 mark.

• Only one game separates teams No. 4-8 in the standings.

• The top five teams in the standings will receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, scheduled March 6-9 in Indianapolis at Conseco Fieldhouse.

• Michigan State has beaten the top three teams in the Big Ten standings, all at home (Iowa, Ohio State and Purdue).

• Michigan State had its four-game winning streak snapped as it fell to Purdue, 69-59, Sunday afternoon at Mackey Arena.

• Poor shooting starts in each half were the keys to Michigan State's offensive woes. The Spartans went 3-of-17 from the floor in the first 13 minutes of the first half, and converted only one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half. MSU finished the game shooting 35 percent from the field.

Kalisha Keane scored a game-high 18 points and hit a season-best three 3-pointers.

Kalisha Keane scored 18 points at Purdue in MSU's last game.

Allyssa DeHaan chipped in 15 points, marking the 23rd time this season she has scored in double figures.

Mia Johnson scored 14 points, her second-highest total of the season, on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line.

• The Boilermakers (15-13, 11-6) were led by FahKara Malone and Lakisha Freeman, who each scored 16 points.

• Purdue dominated the boards, outrebounding the Spartans, 42-24. The 24 rebounds were a season low for MSU.

• Michigan State also dished out a season-low seven assists.

• Purdue never trailed in the game and took a 33-25 lead into halftime.

• MSU had the lead cut to five points on two different occasions in the second half, but could not get any closer. After two Courtney Davidson free throws made it 36-31 at the 16:02 mark, Purdue put the game out of reach with a 14-1 run over the next four minutes to go up, 50-32. The Boilermakers led by double-digits the remainder of the game.

• MSU closed the game on a 12-3 run to make the final 69-59 in favor of Purdue.

Michigan State is the only team in the Big Ten to feature two players ranked among the top 15 in scoring and rebounding. Allyssa DeHaan is sixth in the conference in scoring (15.1 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (7.8 rpg), while Kalisha Keane is 14th in scoring (12.5 ppg) and 12th in rebounding (6.0 rpg). DeHaan and Keane account for 43 percent of the team's points and 38 percent of the team's rebounds.

Illinois is looking for a strong finish to the regular season and improve on its current ninth-place position in the Big Ten standings. After playing at MSU on Thursday, the Illini close out the regular season Sunday at home against Purdue.

The Fighting Illini have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games. In their last game, the Illini fell at home to Michigan, 55-52, even though they were up by eight points midway through the second half.

Although center Jenna Smith was limited to six points in the Michigan game, the 6-3 sophomore still ranks second in the conference in scoring with 19.0 points a game. She leads the Big Ten in rebounding (9.8 avg.) and field-goal percentage (.539).

G - #20 Lori Bjork (Jr., 5-11, 10.2 ppg)
G - #30 Rebecca Harris (Sr., 5-8, 9.1 ppg)
F - #33 Chelsea Gordon (Jr., 6-0, 7.7 ppg)
F - #22 Lacey Simpson (So., 6-0, 6.1 ppg)
C - #13 Jenna Smith (So., 6-3, 18.4 ppg)

Allyssa DeHaan hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds remaining to give the Michigan State women's basketball team a 65-62 victory over Illinois at Assembly Hall.

With the score tied at 62, MSU got the ball in the post to DeHaan, who missed her first two shots, but put the third putback up and in, putting the Spartans up, 64-62.

After an Illinois timeout, Kalisha Keane stole the inbounds pass with three seconds left. Illinois had two fouls to give, and after the third foul, Brittney Thomas hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to give MSU the three-point lead. Illinois did not get a shot off at the end of the game. Mia Johnson, in her first start of the season, scored a season-high 20 points, including five points in the last three minutes.

MSU featured a balanced scoring attack, with four players in double-figures. DeHaan finished with 14 points, while Keane collected a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Brittney Thomas scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.