Women's Basketball's NCAA Tournament Begins in Chapel Hill
No. 5-seed MSU will face No.12-seed Hampton on Sunday at 12:40 p.m.
March 21, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - It is win or go home time for the Michigan State women's basketball team, as the Spartans head down to Chapel Hill, N.C. for the NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds. No. 5-seed Michigan State (22-9) faces No. 12 Hampton (28-4) on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. in the opening round at Carmichael Arena. The game will be available on ESPN2, with home-market protection in Michigan and whiparound coverage in the rest of the country.
|No. 5-seed Michigan State (22-9) vs. No. 12-seed Hampton (28-4)
NCAA Tournament First Round
|Date||Sunday, March 23|
|Time||12:40 p.m. ET|
|Location||Chapel Hill, N.C. | Carmichael Arena|
|Television||ESPN2 | Coverage Maps|
Tom Hart - play-by-play; Mary Murphy - analyst
WatchESPN/ESPN3 | Click Here to Watch
|Radio||WJIM 1240AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play
|Internet Coverage||Interactive Bracket | PDF Bracket|
Chapel Hill Subregional Information
Michigan State's NCAA Tournament Central
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Hampton|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Hampton|
|Social Media||@MSU_wbasketball | Facebook|
SPARTANS' NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Michigan State is making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance, its sixth in a row and its 11th in the last 12 years. The Spartans qualified for their 13th straight postseason overall. It is the first time in program history that MSU has appeared in six-straight NCAA Tournaments. All-time, the Spartans are 16-13 in the NCAA Tournament, including a 10-2 record in its first game. The Spartans advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2006 and 2009, and the National Title game in 2005. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.
MSU is a fifth-seed for the fourth time (2007, 2010, 2013), posting a 3-3 record. They have earned the seed for the second-straight season and for the third time in the last five seasons. As a host in 2007, the Spartans beat No. 12 Delaware 69-58, before losing to No. 4 Rutgers, 70-57. In 2010 in Louisville, MSU knocked off No. 12 Bowling Green, 72-62, but lost to No. 4 Kentucky, 70-52. Last season in College Park, Md., MSU squeezed past No. 12 Marist 55-47, before falling to host No. 4 Maryland 74-49.
MSU is one of 17 schools, including only two in the Big Ten (Iowa) who have qualified for the last six NCAA Tournaments [Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt].
Over the last nine years (2005-present), MSU has posted a 13-8 record in the NCAA Tournament. Its 13 wins are the 14th most in the nation and tied with Purdue for the most among Big Ten schools. [Connecticut 38, Stanford 31, Tennessee 30, Baylor 26, Duke 25, North Carolina 21, LSU 21, Maryland 20, Notre Dame 19, Oklahoma 18, Louisville 16, Rutgers 16, Texas A&M 16]
MERCHANT'S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
This will be head coach Suzy Merchant's seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last six tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant owns the most NCAA appearances as MSU head coach (six). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.
CURRENT SPARTANS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Only four active Spartans enter the weekend with NCAA Tournament experience. Annalise Pickrel, who has played in five NCAA games, averaged 13.0 points in last year's two games, after totaling just eight points in her first three appearances. Jasmine Hines and Becca Mills are both averaging 6.7 points in their three NCAA Tournament games, as Hines is also shooting 66.7% from the floor. Klarissa Bell has played in four NCAA games, averaging 4.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 26.5 minutes.
SPARTANS VS. FIELD OF 64
Michigan State faced seven teams in the NCAA Tournament bracket during the regular season, going 4-5. The Spartans went 1-0 against No. 4 Purdue, No. 6 Iowa and No. 6 Dayton, posted a 1-2 record against No. 4 Nebraska, and lost the only meetings with No. 3 Penn State, No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Florida State.
The Pirates, who earned the No. 12 seed in the Stanford Regional, enter the weekend with a 28-4 record, currently riding an 18-game winning streak. Hampton went 16-0 in the MEAC regular season and defeated Coppin State, 50-47 in the MEAC Tournament title game to earn the automatic bid. The Pirates have won 49-straight conference games.
Hampton is one of the top defensive teams in the nation, ranking second in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense (32.8%), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.5%) and 12th in points allowed (56.0).
The Pirates are led by freshman Malia Tate-DeFreitas, the MEAC Rookie of the Year, who is averaging 18.5 points, while making 2.2 3-pointers a game. Senior Alyssa Bennett is second on the team with 17.8 points and leads the team with 9.4 rebounds. Bennett is a two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Senior Nicole Hamilton leads the Pirates with 4.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.2 blocks, while also adding 12.9 points.
Annalise Pickrel was high school teammates with Hampton sophomore Shellis Hampton.
AGAINST THE PIRATES
Michigan State and Hampton have never met.
HAMPTON NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Hampton is making its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance, all since 2000. It is the Pirates' fourth-straight appearance. Hampton is 0-7 all-time in the NCAAs. The No. 12 seed is the highest seed in program and MEAC history.
MSU AND HAMPTON COMMON OPPONENT
The two schools have only one common opponent this season - Virginia Tech. MSU lost at Virginia Tech, 72-66 on Dec. 7, while the Pirates beat the Hokies, 70-60 at home on Jan. 1.
HAMPTON VS. FIELD OF 64
The Pirates are 0-2 against NCAA Tournament teams, losing to LSU, 73-54, and Georgia Tech, 89-70.
QUICK HITTERS FROM THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
- The Spartans have advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals in four of the last five seasons.
- MSU has won at least one game in 10 of the last 11 Big Ten Tournaments.
- Branndais Agee led MSU in scoring during the Big Ten Tournament, averaging 13.5 points and shooting 57.9%, including a career-high 18 points vs. Nebraska in the semifinals. Becca Mills also averaged in double figures with 13.0 points.
- The 14-point comeback vs. Michigan marked MSU's biggest deficit overcome this season. It is the first win for the Spartans this season when trailing with five minutes left (lost first eight).
ALL FIVE STARTERS HONORED
Fresh off its Big Ten Championship, Michigan State was well represented on the postseason All-Big Ten teams. All five Spartan starters earned all-conference recognition, led by Aerial Powers being named to the First Team. Joining Powers, Annalise Pickrel earned second team honors, while Klarissa Bell, Becca Mills and Tori Jankoska were honorable mention selections. Bell was also on the All-Defensive Team and was the team's Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree. Powers, who is the first Spartan freshman to be named to the first team, was also on the five-member All-Freshman Team.
Michigan State was the only team in the Big Ten with five players named to the All-Big Ten teams. The five recipients also ties for the most in program history with the 1995-96, 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2008-09 teams.
In Suzy Merchant's seven seasons, Michigan State has a Big Ten-best 25 All-Big Ten selections.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONS
With its win over Indiana in the regular season finale, Michigan State won its fourth Big Ten regular-season championship. The Spartans finished the season tied with Penn State atop the conference standings at 13-3. MSU previously won Big Ten regular season titles in 1997, 2005 and 2011.
Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 12-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at four). MSU is 140-58 (70.7%) in conference play over the last 12 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (141-57; 71.2%) in wins.
MSU is one of seven Division I teams to have double-digit conference wins in each of the last 12 seasons - Chattanooga, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Liberty and Stanford also reached 10 conference wins in 2013-14.
Michigan State's 13 conference wins are tied for the second-most Big Ten wins in school history. The 2004-05 team won 14, while the 1990-91, 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2010-11 teams each also won 13 games.
The Spartans have finished third or better in the conference in each of the last six seasons - winning the title in 2010-11 and 2013-14, placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12, and third in 2012-13. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in nine of the last 10 years.
More recently, MSU has won 57 of its last 75 Big Ten regular season games (76.0%). The Spartans started this season 4-0 in Big Ten action for the fifth time in program history (1987-88, 1989-90, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14). Also, MSU's 8-2 record was tied for the best 10-game start in program history (1996-97, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2013-14).
The Spartans reached the 20-win plateau for the 11th straight season. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with four in a row). MSU was one of 10 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 11 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford and Tennessee. Vanderbilt (18) is a couple wins away from joining the group.
This year is Michigan State's 15th 20-win season all-time.
TURNING IT AROUND
Entering the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State has won 10 of its last 12 games, with both losses coming to No. 12 Nebraska. The stretch just happened to coincide with the insertion of freshman Tori Jankoska back into the starting lineup. During the 12 game stretch, she leads the team in points (14.0) and assists (3.5), and in the 10 wins, has posted 15.9 points and 3.9 assists.
After some defensive struggles early in the season, the Michigan State defense improved in Big Ten games. The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed (62.3), field goal percentage defense (38.6%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.9%), 3-pointers allowed (3.9) and scoring margin (+10.3). They were also second in rebound margin (+7.5) and third in blocks (5.0) in league games.
MSU has led the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed in four of the last five seasons (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14), while finishing second last season. The Spartans have also led the league in field goal percentage defense in three of the last six seasons (2008-09, 2009-10, 2013-14).
A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the seven seasons under Merchant, MSU is 38-21 (64.4%) in road conference games, the most wins in the Big Ten during that span. Only Nebraska (17-7), Iowa (31-28), Penn State (31-28) and Ohio State (30-29) have a winning road league record over the last seven seasons.
This season, Michigan State went 7-1 on the road in Big Ten games, with six of its seven wins coming in double digits. MSU's seven road conference wins set a new program record, as six previous teams had won six games. MSU has had a winning road Big Ten record in five of the last six seasons.
The Spartans won their first five Big Ten road games this season for the first time in program history, before losing at Nebraska. In the 34 years of the Big Ten, only 20 teams had won its first five road conference games, including MSU and PSU this season.
Michigan State is off to its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are averaging 73.4 points and have a 44.6% field goal percentage. The points per game average is more than six points better than any Merchant-led MSU team (the 2010-11 team averaged 67.3 points) and the field goal percentage is also the highest during the Merchant era (the 2008-09 team shot 42.1%).
Currently, the 73.4 points per game would be the fifth-best in program history, behind the 1996-97 team (76.8 points), the 1990-91 squad (74.9), the 1994-95 team (74.6) and the 1976-77 team (73.7).
Already this season, the Spartans have scored 70 or more points in 20 of their 31 games, and 80 or more points in 10. It is the second most times reaching 70 points and currently the third most games scoring 80 points. In Merchant's previous six seasons, Michigan State reached 70 points only 60 times and 80 points only 17 times in 202 games.
Also, Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field eight times. It is the most in a single-season since the 1999-00 team that also accomplished the feat 11 times. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
WINS V. LOSSES
The offensive difference between the Spartans' wins and losses this season have been substantial. In its wins, Michigan State is averaging 79.0 points, while shooting 47.6% from the field and 38.3% from 3-point, while making 6.7 per game. In the losses, MSU is putting up only 59.8 points, and shooting 37.5% from the field and 25.6% from 3-point (5.1 per game). In addition, the Spartans have a +10.4 rebound margin in wins and a +0.1 margin in the losses.
Individually, Tori Jankoska has seen the largest difference in production from wins and losses. Jankoska is averaging 14.3 points and shooting 45.3% from the field and 42.1% from 3-point (2.3 per game) in the wins, but only 7.6 points, 30.4% shooting and 23.9% from 3-point (1.2 per game) in the defeats. The Spartans are 7-0 this season when Jankoska leads them in scoring.
Michigan State has had to rely heavily on the production of three freshmen in the 2013-14 season. Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers have all started at least one game and all have played a prominent role this year. The trio has combined to produce 42.9% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.4 points) and Jankoska (12.4) rank first and second on the team, respectively. The percentage is the highest in head coach Suzy Merchant's seven seasons. In the Big Ten, the percentage is third this season, trailing Indiana and Northwestern.
Michigan State is one of four teams in the nation with its top-two scorers as freshmen, along with Eastern Michigan, North Carolina and UMBC.
The trio has been more effective as the season has gone on, increasing its production level in the last 12 games. During this stretch the three have combined for 47.9% (411 of 858) of MSU's points, as Jankoska is averaging 14.0 points, Powers 13.5 and Agee 6.8.
HELP OFF THE BENCH
The play of the Michigan State bench has been instrumental in the team's success so far this season. As a team, the Spartans are receiving 19.9 points per game from their reserves, compared to 13.5 points for the opposition. The total is currently second in the Big Ten, behind Purdue.
In five of Suzy Merchant's seven seasons, the Spartans have led the Big Ten in bench production (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 18-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while going 4-9 when the opponent has more attempts. In the 22 wins, Michigan State is averaging 22.1 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 16.3 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 11.9 per game and allowing 22.8. When shooting 18 or more free throws, the Spartans are 16-0.
DOUBLING IT UP
Against Georgetown, junior Kiana Johnson became the sixth different Spartan this season to post a double-double. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with six different players with a double-double (Ohio State has five different players). In Michigan State history, it is the first time that a team has had six different double-doubles.
For the year, MSU has 19 total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four. It is the most in a season since the 2004-05 team that had 23.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. When the Spartans have scored at least 70 points, their record is 75-5 (93.8%), and have won 58 of their last 59 games. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 121-11 (91.7%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 101 of their last 102 games (99.0%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 52 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 143-5 (96.6%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +8.4 rebound margin in its last 30 games. For the season, the Spartans are +7.4 on the glass to rank second in the Big Ten and 24th in the nation. In conference games, MSU was also second, posting a +7.5 margin. So far this season, Michigan State's 41.7 rebounds per game is the highest mark in program history. The 2009-10 team averaged 41.4 rebounds.
Entering this season, MSU has finished top-40 in the nation in rebound margin each of the last six seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. The Spartans have led the Big Ten in the previous three seasons in rebound margin, and four of the last five. MSU has out-rebounded 98 of its last 122 opponents (80.3%).
AMONG ALL-TIME FRESHMAN GREATS
Spartan freshmen Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska continue to climb the Michigan State freshman record books. The pair is now both in the top-5 of the points list, with Powers second with 414 and Jankoska fifth with 383 points. Powers has also moved into the top-10 in freshman rebounds (third, 249), assists (seventh, 75) and blocks (sixth, 19), and broke the MSU freshman free throws made record (100). Her scoring average of 13.4 is first and her rebound average of 8.0 is fifth.
Meanwhile, Jankoska is second on the 3-point field goals made list with 62, while her 37.1% 3-point percentage is third. She is also sixth in scoring average (12.4) and eighth with 72 assists. Also, her free throws made (71) are eighth.
Powers has six 20-point games this season to set a new MSU freshman record, while Jankoska is tied for second with five. Powers also has nine double-doubles which are the second most.
The senior class of Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel will leave Michigan State as one of the most accomplished classes in program history. The duo has appeared in four NCAA Tournaments, won at least 20 games each season, and became the first class to win two Big Ten regular-season titles. The pair has totaled 93 wins so far in their four seasons, currently the sixth-most in a 4-year span in program history.
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since. As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 55-21 record, while averaging 9.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 33.3 minutes.
Entering this season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.
With a new role this season, Bell is sixth on the team with 7.6 points, but is second in assists (3.5), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) and steals (1.2), and fourth in rebounds (5.0). She is eighth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and ninth in assists. Bell had a career-high 10 assists vs. Minnesota. She earned her second-straight All-Big Ten recognition, being named honorable mention by both the coaches and media, in addition to being selected to the five-player All-Defensive Team.
Bell will finish her Spartan career in the top-20 of multiple statistical categories. Currently, she is 15th in MSU history with 124 games played, 16th with 69 career 3-pointers, 20th with 247 assists and 46 blocks and 21st with 3,020 minutes played.
PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.
Pickrel has continued her improvement during her senior season, earning second team All-Big Ten honors. She is second on the team with 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, while leading the team with 1.2 blocks and third with 2.7 assists in a team-best 33.5 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 45.4% from the field, 36.3% from the 3-point line and 74.7% from the free throw line. Pickrel's points, rebounds, assists and blocks are all on pace for career highs.
Pickrel has led MSU in points, rebounds and assists in two separate games (home vs. Wisconsin and Ohio State). She is the first Spartan to do so twice in the same season since Lykendra Johnson in 2010-11. Also this season, Pickrel has reached the 20-point plateau in three games, after doing so only once in her first three seasons.
Her greatest asset the last two seasons has been her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories last season, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8). Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU. This season, she is 14th in the conference with 1.6 3-pointers, and second on the team with a 36.2% 3-point field goal percentage.
Pickrel is currently seventh in Spartan history with 134 3-point field goals made and a career 35.4% 3-point field goal percentage. She also ranks eighth in MSU history in career blocks with 79 and 15th with 124 games played.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills was asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Now with the support of fellow post Jasmine Hines, Mills' play has flourished. Over her last nine games, Mills has led MSU in scoring with 13.2 points in 28.0 minutes.
Mills has been up-and-down throughout the season though. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 10.1 points and third with 5.6 rebounds, both career highs, in 25.0 minutes, while leading the team and sixth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (50.6%). Over her last 23 games, Mills is shooting 53.3% from the field.
Over the last seven games, Mills is 7-for-13 (53.8%) from behind the arc. It was her first 3-pointers since the Big Ten opener at Minnesota. She was 2-for-14 on the season from 3-point prior to the last seven games.
Junior Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder, but her minutes have been limited over her first three seasons at MSU. However in those minutes, her production has been effective, averaging 6.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in only 14.1 minutes. Hines has led MSU in field goal percentage in each of her first two seasons.
Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion. For the season (24 games), she is averaging 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.1 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes. Hines broke out in a big way against Purdue, coming off the bench for a season-high 16 points in 23 minutes, and has averaged 8.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in 22.3 minutes over her last six games. Hines is currently second on the team in field goal percentage (48.5%), and is shooting 51.1% over her last 21 games.
Redshirt freshman Aerial Powers missed all of last season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice. However, Powers did not take long to make an impact for the Spartans. She became the first Spartan freshman to be named first team All-Big Ten, and has put together one of the best freshman seasons in program history.
Powers leads the team with 13.4 points (17th in the Big Ten), 8.0 rebounds (seventh in the conference) and 1.8 steals (eighth). She is also is averaging 2.4 assists in just 26.3 minutes. Powers is 14th in the conference and third on the team, shooting 48.1%. Powers, who also was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors four times.
Powers is the only freshman in the nation with at least 400 points, 200 rebounds and 75 assists.
Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 (and the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009. Powers had her fourth double-double vs. No. 16/14 Nebraska, totaling 17 points and 15 rebounds in only 27 minutes. Her 15 rebounds were the most by a Spartan in a game since Jan. 7, 2012 and the 13th-most ever by a MSU freshman.
Freshman Tori Jankoska made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season, and has been hot of late for MSU. Jankoska is second on the team with 12.4 points, and broke out of a shooting slump after the holidays. Since coming back from the holiday break, Jankoska is averaging 13.7 points over the last 19 games, shooting 44-for-102 (43.1%) from the 3-point line. Leading into the break, she had averaged 4.0 points over her previous five games, and had made only seven 3-pointers (7-for-40; 17.5%) in her previous eight contests. During the stretch, she has twice scored a season-high 25 points (Colgate and Ohio State), which is the ninth-most all-time by a Spartan freshman. In the Colgate game, Jankoska went 6-for-9 from 3-point, marking the fourth-most in a single-game and the second-most by a freshman. Jankoska leads the team with 62 3-pointers (2.0 per game), which is ninth in the Big Ten overall and second among freshman. Her 62 3-pointers are already ninth on the MSU single-season list and the second most by a Spartan freshman. Jankoska is shooting 37.1% from behind the arc, which also leads the team and is 11th in the conference. In Big Ten games, she ranked sixth in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (41.6%) and seventh in 3-pointers (2.4).
Since rejoining the starting lineup Jan. 26 at Ohio State, Jankoska has seen an uptick in her statistical production. In the 12 games, she leads the team in points (14.0), assists (3.5) and 3-pointers (2.2), while also having 3.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio in 33.8 minutes. Jankoska is shooting 44.5% from the field and 40.6% from 3-point.
Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME
Redshirt freshman Branndais Agee has been the least talked about Spartan freshman, overshadowed by the impressive freshman campaigns by Aerial Powers and Tori Jankoska. However, her play over the past month has shown why she was so highly recruited coming out of high school. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season for MSU, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL.
For the season, Agee is averaging 5.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in only 13.9 minutes. Agee has increased her playing time over the last 10 games, averaging 18.3 minutes, after playing only 7.4 minutes in the first eight Big Ten games. In her last six games, Agee is averaging 8.5 points and shooting 58.3%, including leading MSU at the Big Ten Tournament with 13.5 points per game.
WORTH THE WAIT
Nov. 23 marked the long-awaited return to the court of 6-7 center Madison Williams. The former McDonalds All-American suffered three ACL injuries over the past three seasons, limiting her to three career games entering this season. Williams stepped onto the court against Rice for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011 to a standing ovation from the Breslin Center crowd. In her five minutes of action, she went 3-of-4 from the field for six points, while also adding a rebound, a block and a steal.
So far this season per 40 minutes, Williams is averaging 9.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.4 blocks. After missing two of the previous three games, Williams returned to action at Ohio State to play arguably her best game as a Spartan. In a career-high 19 minutes, she blocked seven shots and grabbed eight rebounds, both career highs. Her seven blocks tied for the 10th most in a single-game and were the most since Feb. 4, 2010.
At 6-7, Williams is currently the fifth tallest player in NCAA Division I. The only student-athletes taller are Pittsburgh's Marvadene Anderson (6-11), Albany's Megan Craig (6-9), UCLA's Savanna Trapp (6-9) and Nevada's Mimi Mungedi (6-8).
In Coach Merchant's first seven seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 162-71 (69.5%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Her 162 wins are currently the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first seven seasons. During her span, the 162 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (166). Merchant has won at least 20 games in 10-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 11 20-win seasons.
In conference games, she is 82-36 (69.5%), ranking her 10th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 82 conference wins are the most in the Big Ten (Iowa and Ohio State-76).
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's seven seasons, the Spartans are 51-17 (75.0%) following a loss.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 1-4 all-time on March 23, with its lone win coming in last season's NCAA Tournament opening round win over Marist.