Women's Basketball 2007-08 Season in Review
Spartans win 23 games and advance to WNIT championship game.
April 22, 2008
2007-08 MICHIGAN STATE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL - POINTS OF PRIDE Michigan State won more games (23) than any other Big Ten team this season.
MSU recorded 20 wins for the fifth straight year.
Michigan State's 23 victories tied for the fourth winningest season in school history.
The Spartans closed the season winning 10 of their last 13 games.
MSU advanced to its first-ever WNIT Championship Game. The Green and White defeated Bowling Green, Kansas, Michigan and North Carolina State en route to reaching the finals.
The Spartans made the postseason for the seventh straight year.
MSU has won more postseason games (13) the past five years than any team in the Big Ten.
The Spartans have won a postseason game five consecutive years, the second-longest active streak in the Big Ten (longest: Purdue).
Michigan State was 10-1 in games decided by five points or less.
MSU is one of two teams in the Big Ten, along with Ohio State, to win 20 games the past five years.
Michigan State finished the regular season ranked 10th nationally in attendance, marking the third straight year MSU has ranked in the top 10.
Coach Suzy Merchant tied her career high with 23 wins this season. The 23 wins tie for the most victories by a first-year Spartan basketball coach, men's or women's, in MSU history. It marked her fifth career 20-win season.
Michigan State featured the youngest team in the Big Ten this season. Overall, MSU's 12 active players consisted of nine freshmen and sophomores, the most underclassmen of any team in the Big Ten.
Michigan State will return 10 letterwinners and all five starters in 2008-09 and will lose just two players from the 2007-08 roster. In addition, Aisha Jefferson will be back in the lineup after receiving a medical redshirt year in 2007-08. MSU finished the Big Ten season 10-8, marking the sixth straight season it has won 10 or more games during the conference season.
MSU defeated five NCAA Tournament teams (Kansas State, Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota).
Allyssa DeHaan became the seventh Spartan to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors.
DeHaan broke her own Big Ten single-season blocks record with 150 this season. That mark represents the fifth-highest total in NCAA single-season history. DeHaan became the first player in Big Ten history to record 100 blocks in two different seasons.
DeHaan became MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots after recording five in the Oklahoma game, passing Kristen Rasmussen.
DeHaan garnered national attention as she was on national player of the year watch lists for the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Wade Trophy.
DeHaan was named Big Ten Player of the Week three times this season.
With three blocks at Providence on Dec. 20, DeHaan became the fastest player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 200-block milestone while playing in her freshman and sophomore seasons (44 games).
Brittney Thomas and Kalisha 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). Thomas and Keane also earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades.
Kalisha Keane set an MSU freshman scoring record with 460 points.
Four Spartans were named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team (Allyssa DeHaan, Mia Johnson, Mandy Piechowski, Alisa Wulff).
DeHaan became the fifth player in MSU history to score 500 points in a single-season. The other players to score 500 points are Liz Shimek (twice), Kisha Kelly (twice), Maxann Reese and Lindsay Bowen. DeHaan's 531 points in 2007-08 were the fourth most in a Spartan season.
DeHaan made 30 consecutive free throws this season, the fourth longest streak in MSU history. Lindsay Bowen holds the MSU record with 37 straight free throws, which she set during the 2002-03 season.
DeHaan hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left to give MSU the 58-57 victory over North Carolina State in the WNIT semifinals, putting the Spartans in the championship game. In a Jan. 24 road game at Illinois, DeHaan hit her second career game-winning shot to help the Spartans win, 65-62. 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.
In the win at Indiana, with the game tied at 62, DeHaan hit a jumper in the lane with 1:23 left to put MSU up, 64-62. After an Indiana free throw cut the lead to one, DeHaan hit another jumper to give the Spartans a three-point lead at 66-63. DeHaan hit her last four field goals of the game down the stretch.
DeHaan was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). DeHaan earned third-team honors for her 3.38 GPA as a pre-med major.
Kalisha Keane, Brittney Thomas and Cetera Washington became the first freshmen trio to start at MSU since the 2001-02 season, when Kristin Haynie, Joy Johnson and Kelli Roehrig started. MSU was the only team in the Big Ten to start three freshmen in a game this season.
Keane scored her 100th career point in MSU's eighth game of the season at Old Dominion, becoming the fourth player in Spartan history to reach the century mark in just eight games.
Brittney Thomas had the most rebounds by a freshman guard in school history.
Six of MSU's returning players scored career highs this season, including Allyssa DeHaan, Courtney Davidson, Lauren Aitch, Alisa Wulff, Mandy Piechowski and Takeya Fortner.
The Spartans overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat Iowa, 73-65, on Jan. 10 at the Breslin Center. It marked the largest halftime comeback since Feb. 12, 2004, when the Spartans also came back from a 13-point halftime hole (33-20) to beat Michigan, 59-54.
Against Purdue on Feb. 11, MSU trailed by 13 points in the first half and by nine midway through the second half before going on a late run to pull out the victory. Courtney Davidson scored 17 in the game, including two free throws with 15.6 seconds left on the clock to give MSU the 56-54 victory.
On Senior Night against Illinois, MSU fell behind 24-12 in the first half before storming back for the 54-46 victory. Courtney Davidson scored a career-high 20 points in the game.
The Spartans trailed archrival Michigan Jan. 31 by eight points at 53-45 with 6:30 to go before rattling off a 16-5 final surge to win, 61-58.
In the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, Minnesota led the Spartans by six points, 47-41, with less than four minutes to go before MSU went on a 15-4 run to end the game with a 56-51 victory.
Down 37-28 to Michigan in the WNIT quarterfinals, the Spartans rallied for a 45-40 overtime victory to beat the Wolverines for the second time this season.
The Spartans led the Big Ten in blocks for the second straight season with 206. In fact, MSU is the only team in Big Ten history to record 200 blocks in a season (the Spartans set a Big Ten record with 211 in 2007-08).
Michigan State went 2-0 at the Caribbean Challenge held at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico over the Thanksgiving holiday break. The Spartans defeated Northern Illinois, 67-40, and Kansas State, 68-65. Allyssa DeHaan averaged 20.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in the two wins.
Michigan State defeated Clemson in the Breslin Center on Nov. 29, 68-51, in the program's first-ever Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge game.
MSU beat No. 17 Ohio State at the Breslin Center on Dec. 30, giving Coach Merchant her first win over a ranked team. Michigan State has 28 wins over nationally ranked opponents since the 2001-02 season.
2007-08 TOP PERFORMERS Sophomore 6-9 center Allyssa DeHaan broke her own Big Ten single-season record with 150 blocked shots this season and finished second in the country in blocks. 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 led the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg), and is just the fifth player at MSU to score 500 points in a season. MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots with 295, 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 relied on a heralded freshman class for extended minutes this season. The class, ranked among the top 20 in the nation, featured point guard Brittney Thomas (7.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg) and forwards Kalisha Keane (12.2 ppg), Cetera Washington (3.0 ppg) and Taja Wilson (2.6 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 was 13th in the Big Ten in scoring and scored in double figures 24 times; she finished 2007-08 as the top freshman scorer in school history with 460 points.
Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas was one of the most versatile freshmen in the Big Ten. The honorable mention All-Big Ten selection led conference freshmen in minutes (35.1 avg.) and assists (3.6 avg.). In MSU's freshman record book, she finished second in assists with 133 and 10th in scoring with 272 points (7.4 avg.). Her 202 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 started the last 17 games (MSU record: 12-5) and finished the season averaging 4.1 points and 18 minutes per game. Johnson averaged 8.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg in 29.6 minutes a game in 2006-07, her first for the Green and White after transferring from Saint Louis University in 2005-06. Johnson scored 17 in the WNIT semifinals over NC State.
Sophomore center Lauren Aitch (7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who received a medical redshirt in 2006-07 due to a torn ACL, was back and healthy this season. She scored in double figures 12 times, including a career-best 16-point performance vs. Clemson Nov. 29. MSU was 9-3 when Aitch scored in double figures.
Senior guard Courtney Davidson had her most productive season as a Spartan. She averaged career bests in points (7.1) and minutes (21.1). She led the team with 43 3-pointers made, which was 15th most in an MSU single-season, and made at least three 3-pointers in eight games. Davidson came through in the clutch several times in 2007-08 - she scored a career-high 20 points on Senior Night against Illinois; 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.
After seeing limited action in 12 games as a freshman, sophomore Mandy Piechowski played in 32 games her second season wearing the Green and White, including 16 starts. She started the last 15 games of the season (MSU record: 11-4). Piechowski was fourth on the team with 21 3-pointers and scored 81 points (2.5 avg.). She had three double-digit scoring efforts, including a career-high 14 points at Minnesota on Jan. 27.
Named a captain prior to the 2007-08 season, senior Alisa Wulff responded by having her best season at MSU, notching career highs in every statistical category. One of the team's top shooters, Wulff scored 103 points and hit 25 3-pointers, third most on the team. Perhaps the biggest shot of Wulff's career was when she hit a 3-pointer with just one minute remaining against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. The shot, Wulff's only of the game, gave MSU a four-point lead and helped the Spartans earn the victory. Not only a leader on the court, Wulff volunteered at numerous community events and also shined in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten accolades this spring.
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACH Suzy Merchant
In her first season as head coach at Michigan State, Suzy Merchant took the youngest team in the Big Ten to its seventh straight trip to the postseason, advanced to the championship game of the WNIT, and tied for the most wins (23) by a first-year Spartan basketball coach, men's or women's, in MSU history. The Spartans collected their fifth straight 20-win season against one of the toughest schedules in the country, and won 10 conference games for the sixth straight season.
Prior to arriving at Michigan State, Merchant coached for nine seasons at Eastern Michigan, compiling a 147-91 (.618) record to become the program's all-time winningest coach. She led EMU to three 20-win seasons, three postseason appearances, including the 2004 NCAA Tournament, and two Mid-American Conference West Division titles.
Merchant, who coached for three years at Saginaw Valley State prior to EMU, owns a 224-134 (.627) career record in 13 years as a head coach. She has five 20-win seasons after tying her career high in wins in 2007-08.