Spartans Host Bowling Green in WNIT Second Round Saturday
March 21, 2008
WNIT SECOND ROUND
MICHIGAN STATE (19-13) vs. BOWLING GREEN (26-7)
BGSU: Curt Miller (Baldwin-Wallace, 1990)
Michigan State is making its seventh straight appearance in the postseason, dating back to the 2001-02 season. The Spartans reached the WNIT semifinals in 2002 before reaching the NCAA Tournament five consecutive seasons from 2003-07.
This marks MSU's fourth appearance in the WNIT. The Green and White own a 7-3 all-time record in the tournament. MSU went 2-1 in both 1999 and 2000 in advancing to the quarterfinals, in addition to its 3-1 record in 2002.
The Spartans played well down the stretch, winning seven of their last 10 and six of their last eight games. MSU defeated Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, 56-51, to advance to the semifinals of the tournament for the fifth straight year. In the semifinals, MSU fell to Illinois, 55-41.
MSU's strong regular season included victories over five NCAA Tournament teams (Iowa, Kansas State, Purdue, Ohio State). The Spartans' schedule ranked 33rd-toughest in the nation and featured matchups against 14 postseason teams (nine NCAA Tournament, five WNIT).
The Spartans are led by first-team All-Big Ten selection and 6-9 sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan, who leads the team with 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.
MICHIGAN STATE WNIT HISTORY
The Spartans are 7-3 in their three previous appearances in the WNIT. MSU went 2-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals in both 1999 and 2000. In 2002, MSU went 3-1 before falling at Oregon in the semifinals.
Michigan State is making its seventh straight appearance in the postseason.
MSU is 3-0 all-time in the second round of the WNIT and 3-0 in its first game of the WNIT.
ALL-TIME WNIT RESULTS
Second Round - Ann Arbor, Mich. - March 14
Quarterfinals - Madison, Wis. - March 17
Second Round - Cincinnati, Ohio - March 18
Quarterfinals - Madison, Wis. - March 22
Second Round - Champaign, Ill. - March 16
Quarterfinals - East Lansing, Mich.. - March 19
Semifinals - Eugene, Ore. - March 23
MSU VS. WNIT FIELD
MERCHANT IN THE POSTSEASON
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Coach Merchant is looking to become the second MSU coach to win 20 games in her first year. Karen Langeland, MSU's all-time winningest coach with 376 wins, won 23 her first season in 1976-77.
Allyssa DeHaan has 464 points, just 14 shy of cracking the top 10 list for top scorers in a MSU single-season. DeHaan scored 411 points in 33 games last season. She needs 25 points for 900 in her career.
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 third with 384 points, trailing just Lindsay Bowen (386) and DeHaan.
A GLANCE AT BOWLING GREEN
Bowling Green features a balanced scoring attack with three players averaging double-figures. Freshman guard Lauren Prochaska, the MAC Freshman of the Year, is averaging 14.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, while senior guard Kate Achter, the MAC Player of the Year, is also averaging 14.5 ppg. Achter scored 15 in the win over Dayton.
Bowling Green won its last nine games in the regular season to claim its fourth consecutive MAC title. The Falcons missed out on the NCAA Tournament after falling to Ohio in the MAC Tournament semifinals, 68-66, in double overtime.
The Falcons are familiar with East Lansing - on the road to the Sweet 16 last year, they won their first-round game over Oklahoma State and second-round game over Vanderbilt at the Breslin Center.
COACH CURT MILLER:
MSU is 7-1 this season in games decided by five points or less (wins over Kansas State, Delaware State, Illinois, Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota; only loss at Hartford).
Michigan State is one of the youngest teams in the country - out of MSU's 12 active players, nine are freshmen and sophomores, the most underclassmen of any team in the Big Ten. MSU's starting lineup the past 11 games features two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior. MSU is the only team in the Big Ten to start three freshmen (Brittney Thomas, Cetera Washington and Kalisha Keane) in a game this season. Seventy nine percent of the team's scoring comes from the underclassmen.
Sophomore 6-9 center Allyssa DeHaan, who set a Big Ten record last season with 145 blocked shots, is second in the country with 128 blocked shots (4.0 pg). She is the first player in Big Ten history to record 100 blocks in two different seasons. A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media, she leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots with 273, DeHaan is on the Wade Watch for national player of the year. She has been named Big Ten Player of the Week three times this season.
The Spartans are relying on a heralded freshman class for extended minutes this season. The class, ranked among the top 20 in the nation, features point guard Brittney Thomas (7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg) and forwards Kalisha Keane (12.0 ppg), Cetera Washington (3.3 ppg) and Taja Wilson (2.7 ppg). The trio of Thomas, Keane and Washington started 17 times this year for the Spartans. Thomas and Keane became just the second Spartan duo to be named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in the same season (Lindsay Bowen, Liz Shimek in 2003). Keane is 16th in the Big Ten in scoring and has scored in double-figures 20 times this season.
Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas is one of the most versatile freshmen in the Big Ten. The honorable mention All-Big Ten selection leads conference freshmen in minutes (34.4 avg.), assists (3.5 avg.) and steals (1.9 avg.). Thomas also ranks fourth in rebounding (5.2 avg.) and field-goal percentage (.489), and fifth in scoring (7.6 avg.). In MSU's freshman record book, she is third in assists with 112. Her 166 rebounds are the most ever by a Spartan freshman guard.
The other returning starter and tri-captain, junior guard Mia Johnson, tore her ACL during summer workouts and missed the first eight games of the season. After slowly re-entering the rotation, she started her first game of the season at Illinois on Jan. 24, and responded by scoring a season-high 20 points. She has started the last 12 games (MSU record: 8-4) and is currently averaging 3.7 points and 17 minutes per game. Johnson averaged 8.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg in 29.6 minutes a game last season, her first for the Green and White after transferring from Saint Louis University in 2005-06.
Sophomore center Lauren Aitch (7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who received a medical redshirt last season due to a torn ACL, is back and healthy this season. She has scored in double figures nine times this season, including a career-best 16-point performance vs. Clemson Nov. 29. MSU is 7-3 when Aitch scores in double-figures. She grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds at Michigan Jan. 13.
Senior guard Courtney Davidson is having her most productive season as a Spartan. She is averaging career bests in points (7.5) and minutes (22.3). She leads the team with 41 3-pointers made, which is tied for 16th most in an MSU single-season, and has made at least three 3-pointers in eight games. Davidson has come through in the clutch several times this season - she scored a career-high 20 points on Senior Night in her last career game at the Breslin Center; poured in 18 points in the comeback win over Iowa Jan. 10; and scored 17 in the win against Purdue Feb. 11, including two free throws with 15.6 seconds left on the clock to give MSU the 56-54 victory.
The Spartans lost power forward Aisha Jefferson to a season-ending knee injury in the second exhibition game against Lake Superior State. Jefferson, one of three captains named by Coach Merchant at the beginning of the season, was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick last year after averaging 10.4 ppg and 5.6 rpg.
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