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California Bound: Spartans Head to Berkeley for Regional Semifinal

March 26, 2009

No. 9-seed Michigan State Spartans (22-10)
No. 4-seed Iowa State Cyclones (26-8)
2009 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Berkeley, Calif.
Arena: Haas Pavilion
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch - play-by-play; Mary Murphy - analyst; Todd Harris - sideline)
Radio: WJIM 1240 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant | Mia Johnson | Cetera Washington

NCAA Tournament History
The Spartans are making their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance and will compete in their third Sweet 16. It is their sixth bid in the last seven seasons. All-time MSU is 13-8 in tournament action. The Spartans improved to 7-1 in first round competition and 3-5 in second round games. Michigan State has now won at least one game in seven of the nine trips, including making it to the 2005 championship game and 2006 Sweet 16.



This is the second time that Michigan State has been a No. 9 seed; the Spartans advanced to the second round in 1996. The win on Sunday marked just the second time in MSU's NCAA Tournament history that they beat a lower seeded team (a 60-57 overtime win over No. 8 seed Massachusetts in the 1996 first round). With Tuesday's win over No. 1-seed Duke, MSU is now 2-4 against top-seeded teams.

Sunday's win was also head coach Suzy Merchant's first NCAA Tournament win in her first trip to the tournament with the Spartans. Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the NCAA Tournament in 2004.

Making History
Michigan State became just the third No. 9 seed in the history of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16. They are also the first since 1998, when both Arkansas and Notre Dame posted upsets. It was also only the seventh time in NCAA history that a No. 1 seed did not reach the Sweet 16.

Closing the Door
In each of the two NCAA Tournament wins by Michigan State this past week, the Spartans finished strong to take home the victory. On Sunday against Middle Tennessee, MSU trailed by seven (57-50) with 4:24 on the clock, but closed the game on a 10-2 run. On Tuesday vs. No. 1-seed Duke, the game was tied at 47 with 5:36 remaining, however the Spartans finished on a 16-2 run. Duke did not score a field goal in the last 7:29, missing its last 17 attempts.

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans are among the nation's top-25 in five major statistical categories. MSU is sixth in field goal percentage defense (34.3%), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.4%), 10th in rebound margin (+8.1), 15th in blocked shots (5.4) and 25th in scoring defense (55.0). The Spartans are also 48th in scoring margin (+8.6). Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is tied for fifth in the country in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.

DeHaan Reaches Milestone...
Junior Allyssa DeHaan became the program's 19th 1,000-point scorer with a basket with 14:48 left in the second half against Quinnipiac. DeHaan has since moved into ninth on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,274 points. She also was the fifth fastest to the milestone, needing only 75 games (Mary Kay Itnyre - 65 games, Kris Emerson - 72, Lindsay Bowen - 73, Kisha Kelley - 74).

DeHaan is also seventh on the Michigan State career rebound list with 718. She is only one of five Spartans to be in the top-10 in both career points and rebounds, joining Liz Shimek, Kristen Rasmussen, Kris Emerson and Kisha Kelley.

...And Breaks Records
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan became the Big Ten's career blocked shots leader in the first half against Wisconsin on March 6. Currently with 397 blocks, she surpassed Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) for the record. Nationally, DeHaan is eighth all-time and only 83 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

In addition, with her four blocks against Stony Brook (Nov. 16), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games.

Greatest Michigan State Defensive Team of All-Time?
The 2008-09 Michigan State team has a chance to finish the season as one of the greatest defensive teams in program history. Currently this year's team has allowed the fewest points per game (54.9) since 1974-75 and owns the lowest field goal percentage defense (34.5%) since records were kept for the 1976-77 season. Since the addition of the 3-point line to the women's game for the 1987-88 season, the Spartans' 26.5% is second to only the first year of the line. Also, this year's squad has the best rebound margin (+7.7) since opposing rebounds were kept in 1987-88.

Regular Season Finish
Finishing at 13-5 in Big Ten play, the Spartans ended in a tie for second in the conference with Purdue and Iowa. The 13 wins are the second most in MSU history, trailing only the 2004-05 team (14-2), and tying the 2006-07 (13-3) and 1990-91 (13-5) squads. It was only the second time (1990-91 season) that Michigan State had finished second in the conference since league started sanctioning the sport prior to the 1981-82 season. MSU shared the regular season title in 1996-97 and 2004-05.

Tops in the Big Ten
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games only in field goal percentage defense (35.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.7%) and rebound margin (+6.0). MSU's field goal percentage defense was the lowest in Big Ten history and was only the second time that the Spartans has led the league in field goal percentage defense, joining the 2002-03 team. In addition, it is the fourth time in seven seasons that Michigan State has lead the conference in rebound margin (2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06).

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category in overall games. The Spartans are first in scoring defense (55.0), field goal percentage defense (34.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.4%), rebound margin (+8.1), rebounds (41.5), offensive rebounds (14.27) and blocked shots (5.40). They are also second in scoring margin (+8.6), and third in steals (8.90) and turnovers forced (18.5).

Among the individual top-10, junior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.07 and ninth with a 46.3 field goal percentage, while sophomore Kalisha Keane is ninth with 1.80 steals per game.

In conference games, aside from leading in the aforementioned field goal percentage defense (35.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.7%) and rebound margin (+6.0), the Spartans were second in scoring defense (54.6) and offensive rebounds (13.78), and is third in blocked shots (4.56), steals (8.78) and turnovers forced (17.7). Individually, DeHaan is second with 2.50 blocks per game and tied for eighth in field goal percentage (45.7%). Meanwhile, Johnson is tied for sixth in offensive rebounds (2.78) and 10th with 6.9 rebounds, and Keane is eighth with 1.78 steals.

Postseason Recognition
The Big Ten Conference office released the women's basketball postseason awards on March 2 with five Spartan student-athletes taking home recognition. Junior Allyssa DeHaan highlighted the MSU selections, being named to the All-Big Ten Second Team by both the coaches and media. DeHaan earned All-Big Ten honors for the third-straight season. She was picked to the first team by the media and to the second team by the coaches last season, and was a second team choice by both as a freshman. In all, it is the eighth consecutive season that a MSU student-athlete was been named to the first or second team. DeHaan was also named to the All-Defensive Team, an honor she has also received in each of her three seasons in green and white.

Redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson was one of four Spartans to garner honorable mention All-Big Ten, as she was selected by both the coaches and media. Jefferson was also an honorable mention choice by both the coaches and media after the 2006-07 season as a sophomore. Joining Jefferson on the coaches' ballot was sophomore Kalisha Keane, and on the media selections was sophomore Brittney Thomas and redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson. Both Keane and Thomas earned honorable mention honors by the media last season. It is the fourth time in Michigan State history that five different Spartans were honored on an All-Big Ten team, and was the first time since 2004-05.

Johnson was also an unanimous choice to the All-Freshman Team. She is the 11th Spartan to be named to the All-Freshman Team, including at least one in each of the last four seasons. In addition, redshirt junior Lauren Aitch was Michigan State's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.

Defense on the Arc
The Spartans have picked up their defensive prowess on the perimeter. MSU has improved upon its league leading and sixth nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last 18 games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 23.9% (73-of-306) clip, including holding Purdue to no 3-point makes in six attempts in the regular season finale, No. 14/12 Ohio State (Feb. 8) to 7.1% (1-of-14), Illinois (Feb. 5) to 12.5% (1-of-8) and Michigan (Jan. 15) to 17.1% (6-of-35).

New Heights
MSU currently has seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including four in the starting lineup. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 1010-654 edge in points in the paint (+11.1 per game), a 421-291 edge in second chance points (+4.1), a 1322-1077 edge in rebounding (+7.7 per game) and have 184 blocks. MSU leads the Big Ten and are top-15 in the nation in both rebound margin and blocks. Those seven players have combined for 1604 of the team's 2029 points (79.1%).

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. Their opponents have combined for only 788 points (24.6 per game). MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State (Dec. 18), and 13 points to Detroit (Nov. 19) and Michigan (Feb. 19). The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record, set by Indiana (Jan. 16, 2003).

Spartans' Dynamic Duo
In their one-plus year on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 18-1 record, including a 8-0 mark so far this season.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 16-1 this season and are 52-15 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 34-4, including a 11-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 30-13 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 11-6 mark in 2008-09.

Finding Her Groove
It took redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson a little time to shake off the rust and get used to the college game after sitting out last season, but since she has been inserted into the starting lineup 17 games ago, Johnson has been one of the Spartans best players. In her starts, she is averaging 8.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists, while helping MSU to a 13-4 record. Of late, Johnson has been even better, averaging 8.8 points over the last 14 games, while also adding team-bests in rebounds (7.7), assists (2.1) and steals (1.4).

About Iowa State
Iowa State, the Berkeley region's No. 4 seed, advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over East Tennessee State, 85-53, and Ball State, 71-57, in Bowling Green, Ky. The Cyclones are 26-8 on the season and finished in a tie for third in the Big 12 at 11-5. ISU is 11-7 in games away from Ames. In the latest national polls, Iowa State is 17th by the AP and 19th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

The Cyclones are one of the most dangerous teams in the country from behind the arc, hitting over eight 3-point field goals per game, while posting a 35.1% clip from behind the line. Six different ISU players have double-digit made treys with four Cyclones with at least 1.0 made per game. Heather Ezell leads Iowa State in scoring at 11.7 points per game, as five Cyclones average over eight points per game.

Head Coach Bill Fennelly is in his 14th season at the helm of the Iowa State program, after spending the previous seven season as the head coach at Toledo. Fennelly is in the midst of his 13th NCAA Tournament, having advanced to the Sweet 16 in four of his 10 trips with the Cyclones.

Iowa State and MSU had four common opponents this season - Iowa, Minnesota, Detroit and Niagara. Iowa State went 3-1 against the group (loss at Iowa), while the Spartans went 3-2 (pair of losses to Minnesota).

Against the Cyclones
The Spartans own a 3-1 record against Iowa State, but have not faced each other since 1992. MSU has won all three meetings in East Lansing and ISU won the only game in Ames. All-time against Big 12 opponents, Michigan State is 9-9.

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