Spartans, Wolverines to Meet in WNIT Quarterfinals Sunday

March 29, 2008

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MICHIGAN STATE (21-13) vs. MICHIGAN (19-13)

Game Information
When: Sunday, March 30 • 2 p.m.
Where: Breslin Center • East Lansing, Mich.
Tickets: Reserved: $15; GA: $10; Youth/Senior GA: $5

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

Series History
Overall: MSU leads, 51-15 (season series tied, 1-1)
Last meeting: @ MSU 61, Michigan 58 (1/31/08)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 222-133 (13th year)
At MSU: 21-13 (first year)

UM: Kevin Borseth (Lake Superior State, 1976)
Overall: 525-223 (26th year)
At Michigan: 19-13 (first year)

Michigan State and Michigan will meet for the third time this season on Sunday as the Spartans host the Wolverines in the WNIT quarterfinals. The two teams split the season series, with each team protecting its home court. Tip time is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Breslin Center. The winner will earn a trip to the WNIT semifinals to take on the winner of St. John's-North Carolina State, which is also scheduled for Sunday.

The Spartans defeated Kansas (17-16) in the third round on Thursday in East Lansing, 58-54. Allyssa DeHaan led MSU with 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, while Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas also scored 10 apiece. In the game, DeHaan recorded her 900th career point and grabbed her 500th career rebound, and Keane became the top freshman scorer in MSU history, surpassing DeHaan's mark set last season. Keane now has 414 points, which is 23rd best in an MSU single-season. DeHaan needs eight points against Michigan to become just the fifth player in Spartan history to score 500 points in a season.

The Spartans, who received a first-round bye in the 48-team WNIT, defeated Bowling Green last Saturday in the second round, 74-66. Michigan also received a first-round bye and defeated VCU, 75-57, and Southern Miss, 59-45, at home to reach the quarterfinals.

With a 19-13 record, the Wolverines are having their most successful season since recording 19 wins in 2000-01. The win over VCU was Michigan's first postseason victory since 2001.

MSU has dominated the all-time series over Michigan, 51-15, including victories in 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Spartans have won five straight over Michigan at home, including a 61-58 victory earlier this season on Jan. 31. DeHaan led MSU with 15 points in the game and Mandy Piechowski added 12 with two 3's.

• Michigan State is making its fourth overall appearance in the WNIT.
• MSU received a bye in the first round of the 48-team tournament, defeated Bowling Green in the second round, 74-66, and beat Kansas in the third round, 58-54.
• This marks MSU's fourth appearance in the WNIT quarterfinals. 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.
• The Spartans are 9-3 all-time in the WNIT.
• Michigan State is making its seventh straight appearance in the postseason.
• This marks the second meeting between Michigan and Michigan State in the WNIT. MSU topped Michigan in the second round of the 1999 tournament, 69-68, in Ann Arbor.

• Michigan State leads the all-time series over Michigan, 51-15.
• MSU is 26-6 against Michigan in East Lansing. The Spartans have won five straight at home against the Wolverines.
• MSU is 1-0 vs. Michigan in the WNIT. The Spartans beat the Wolverines in the second round in 1999, 69-68. Sophomore center Becky Cummings' offensive putback at the buzzer lifted MSU to the last-second win.
• This marks the fourth time the two rivals will play three times in one season. In 1982-83, MSU went 3-0 against Michigan with wins in Grand Rapids (Nov. 27), East Lansing (Feb. 6) and Ann Arbor (Feb. 13). In 1994-95, the Spartans went 2-1 with a win at home and a victory in the Big Ten Tournament. The last time MSU-UM played three times arrived during the 1998-99 season, as the two teams split the season series before Michigan State won in Ann Arbor in the second round of the WNIT.

Allyssa DeHaan has 492 points, just eight shy of becoming the fifth player in MSU history to score 500 points in a season (Liz Shimek and Kisha Kelly-twice; Maxann Reese and Lindsay Bowen, once).

• The Spartans, with a 20-13 overall record, have won eight of their last 10 games. MSU finished the Big Ten season 10-8, marking the sixth straight season it has won 10 or more games during the conference season.

• Michigan State has recorded five straight 20-win seasons and is making its seventh consecutive appearance in the postseason. The Spartans have won a postseason game five consecutive years.

• MSU is 8-1 this season in games decided by five points or less (wins over Kansas State, Delaware State, Illinois, Michigan, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas; 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 13 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. Eighty 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 136 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 281, DeHaan was on national player of the year watch lists this season for the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy. She was 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, 5.3 rpg, 3.6 apg) and forwards Kalisha Keane (12.2 ppg), Cetera Washington (3.1 ppg) and Taja Wilson (2.8 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 22 times this season; she is the top freshman scorer in school history with 414 points.

Kalisha Keane became the top scoring freshman in MSU history in the Kansas game.

• 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 (34.6 avg.), assists (3.6 avg.) and steals (1.8 avg.). Thomas also ranks fourth in rebounding (5.3 avg.) and field-goal percentage (.482), and fifth in scoring (7.6 avg.). In MSU's freshman record book, she is second in assists with 123. Her 181 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 14 games (MSU record: 10-4) and is currently averaging 3.4 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 (7.4 ppg, 4.4 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 11 times this season, including a career-best 16-point performance vs. Clemson Nov. 29. MSU is 8-3 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 (7.4) and minutes (21.9). She leads the team with 42 3-pointers made, which is tied for 15th 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.

• Sophomore guard Mandy Piechowski tied a career high with four 3-pointers in the win over Bowling Green. Piechowski has scored in double figures three times this season, including a career-high 14 points at Minnesota on Jan. 27. Piechowski has started the last 12 games (MSU record: 9-3).

• 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.

• DeHaan has 136 blocked shots in 34 games, 70 more than Purdue's Danielle Campbell, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 66 blocks.

• In Thursday's win against Kansas, DeHaan became the 20th player in MSU history to collect 500 career rebounds. She also collected her 900th career point.

• MSU is 16-0 when it has more assists than its opponent.

• Michigan State is 14-3 when leading at the half and 15-1 when leading with five minutes left in the game.

• MSU is 13-2 when holding teams to under 60 points.

• The Spartans are 8-1 when games are decided by five points or less.

• The starting lineup of Brittney Thomas, Mia Johnson, Mandy Piechowski, Kalisha Keane and Allyssa DeHaan is 9-3.

• MSU has won six straight at the Breslin Center.

• MSU has won 11 postseason games the past five years, the most of any Big Ten team.

• Michigan State defeated Kansas, 58-54, in the third round of the WNIT Thursday night at the Breslin Center.

Allyssa DeHaan led MSU with 16 points and also collected seven rebounds and four blocks. In the game, DeHaan scored her 900th career point and grabbed her 500th career rebound.

Kalisha Keane scored in double figures for the 22nd time this season with 10 points and became the top freshman scorer in school history. Keane has 414 points for the season, surpassing the previous record of 411 set by DeHaan last year.

Brittney Thomas also scored 10 points and had seven rebounds with three assists.

• Danielle McCray led the Jayhawks (17-16) with 18 points.

• In a back-and-forth affair, the game featured nine ties and 12 lead changes, and neither team led by more than seven points. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, but the difference was free throws, as MSU hit 15-of-17 shots (88 percent) from the line.

• Michigan State missed its first nine 3-point attempts, but Keane drained two 3's and Mandy Piechowski hit one down the stretch to help the Spartans notch the victory. Keane's second 3-pointer put MSU up 50-45 with 4:17 remaining, and two DeHaan free throws pushed the lead to 52-45 at the 3:40 mark.

•Kansas cut the margin back down to three at 52-49, but would get no closer, as MSU hit two field goals and two free throws in the last minute to seal the win.

Sunday's meeting between the Spartans and Wolverines is not the first time the two rivals have met in the WNIT. Here's a look back at the first meeting, a 69-68 MSU victory in Ann Arbor on March 14, 1999:

Sophomore center Becky Cummings' offensive putback at the buzzer lifted the Michigan State women's basketball team to a 69-68 victory over Michigan at Crisler Arena in a second round Women's National Invitation Tournament contest.

A 3-pointer by freshman Raina Goodlow gave Michigan its biggest lead of the game at 43-34 at the 18:31 mark of the second half. The Spartans responded with an 11-1 run culminated by back-to-back layups by junior Maxann Reese to give MSU a 45-44 lead with 15:09 to play.

Michigan then put together an 11-3 run to go back up by seven points at 55-48 with 9:50 left to play. The Spartans stayed within six points the rest of the way and cut the defict to one point at 66-65 on a three-pointer by Reese at the 1:57 mark.

Stacey Thomas countered for the Wolverines with a driving layup to put Michigan on top, 68-65, with 1:49 remaining, but Cummings pulled the Spartans within one with a basket underneath to make it 68-67 with 1:40 to play.

Michigan couldn't score on its next trip down the court and MSU called a 20-second timeout with 1:02 remaining to set up a play. Following the timeout, the Spartans turned the ball over and Michigan took a full timeout with 38.8 seconds left on the clock.

The Wolverines missed a shot and senior Pernille Dalgaard collected the rebound and MSU took a timeout with 13 seconds remaining to set up a final play. The Spartans got the ball into junior Kristen Rasmussen, but the second-team All-Big Ten honoree was double-teamed and she kicked it out to junior Donita Johnson. Johnson missed the shot, but Cummings was in perfect position and collected the offensive rebound and put it in at the buzzer for the 69-68 victory.

Reese paced the Spartan scoring effort with 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for the first double-double of her career.

Dalgaard posted a season-high 15 points, while Rasmussen added 12 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Cummings ended the game with nine points and six rebounds.

"I was a little shocked that it ended up in my hands," Cummings said of her offensive rebound at the end. "We had our set play and we knew what we had to go out and do and you just have to be ready for circumstances like that."