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No. 17 Spartans Face No. 4 LSU in Preseason WNIT Semifinals Thursday Night

Nov. 13, 2007

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No. 17/18 MICHIGAN STATE (2-0) at No. 4/4 LSU (2-0)

Game Information:
When: Thursday, Nov. 15 • 8 p.m. ET
Where: Maravich Center • Baton Rouge, La.

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

Series History:
Overall: LSU leads, 2-0.
Last meeting: LSU 65, MSU 50 (Dec. 17, 2006)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 203-120 (14th year)
At MSU: 2-0 (first year)

Van Chancellor (Mississippi State, 1965)
Overall: 441-154 (20th year-collegiate)
At LSU: 2-0 (first year)

The No. 17/18 Michigan State women's basketball team cruised through the first two rounds of the Preseason WNIT in East Lansing, but the task becomes much more difficult in the semifinals as the Spartans travel to No. 4/4 LSU Thursday at 8 p.m. In the other Preseason WNIT semifinal, No. 3/3 Maryland hosts No. 23/25 Notre Dame. The championship game is set for Sunday, Nov. 18, with a time and location TBA.

LSU leads the all-time series over MSU, 2-0. Last season, the two teams met in the Breslin Center, with No. 7/7 LSU coming out on top, 65-50. Two years ago in Baton Rouge, No. 3/3 LSU defeated No. 10/12 Michigan State, 72-52.

The Spartans opened the 2007-08 campaign with a dominating 30-point win over IUPUI, 65-35, giving first-year head coach Suzy Merchant a victory in her Spartan debut. Allyssa DeHaan led the Spartans with 18 points and seven blocked shots, while Kalisha Keane added 12 points.

In the second round, MSU took care of Evansville, 73-53, led once again by DeHaan's 17 points and eight blocks. Three other Spartans scored in double figures, including Cetera Washington (15 points), Keane (13) and Lauren Aitch (12).

LSU, which received a first-place vote in the coaches' poll, was equally as impressive at home in its first two games of the 16-team tournament. The Tigers waxed Samford, 86-38, and beat TCU, 73-54. The Tigers, who have reached four straight NCAA Final Fours, feature an experienced roster with nine seniors and all five starters returning from last season's 30-8 team, including All-American center and 6-6 senior Sylvia Fowles (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg in 2007-08).

• MSU returns two starters and seven letterwinners from last season's team that went 24-9 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
• Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan set a Big Ten record last season with 145 blocked shots. She is the team's top returning scorer (12.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.5 rpg). A preseason All-Big Ten selection, she was named second-team All-Big Ten last season and was tabbed the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Through two games, DeHaan leads the team in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg). She ranks first in the Big Ten in blocks (15 total, 7.5 bpg).
• The Spartans lost 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.
• The other returning starter and co-captain, junior guard Mia Johnson, tore her ACL during summer workouts and is not expected back until the start of the Big Ten season. Johnson averaged 8.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg last season, her first for the Green and White after transferring from Saint Louis University in 2005-06.
• Senior guards Courtney Davidson (4.5 ppg) and Alisa Wulff (1.5 ppg) and sophomore guards Mandy Piechowski (3.0 ppg) and Takeya Fortner all return for MSU.
• Sophomore center Lauren Aitch (8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg), who received a medical redshirt last season due to a torn ACL, is back and healthy this season.
• The Spartans will rely on a heralded freshman class for minutes this season. The class, ranked among the top 20 in the nation, features point guard Brittney Thomas and forwards Kalisha Keane, Cetera Washington and Taja Wilson. Thomas, Keane and Washington have started the first two games for MSU.

Senior Alisa Wulff started her first game at MSU Friday night vs. IUPUI.

• LSU is led by Hall of Fame Coach Van Chancellor. Chancellor, who is in his first season as the head coach at LSU, went 439-154 in 19 seasons as the head coach at Ole Miss from 1978-1997. He coached 10 years for the WNBA's Houston Comets, winning four WNBA Championships. He also coached the USA National Team to a perfect 38-0 record in international competition in 2002 and 2004, including the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
• The Tigers return 11 letterwinners and all five starters from last season's team that went 30-8 and advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Cleveland.
• Two-time All-American and 6-6 senior center Sylvia Fowles averaged 16.9 points and 12.6 rebounds a game last year. She is LSU's all-time leading shot blocker.

• MSU has won nine straight season openers.
• MSU opens the season 2-0 for the fifth consecutive season.
• Coach Merchant is the first MSU women's basketball coach to begin her career 2-0.
• MSU has held both of its opponents to under 35-percent shooting from the field.
• The Spartans have outscored their opponents by an average of 18.3 points in the second half of their two regular-season games and two exhibition games.
Cetera Washington leads the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage, hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers (.800) her first two games.
Allyssa DeHaan leads the Big Ten in blocks with 7.5 per game.
• MSU leads the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (86.4 percent).
Kalisha Keane is a perfect 9-for-9 from the free-throw line this season.

With the losses of All-Big Ten guards Rene Haynes and Victoria Lucas-Perry to graduation, and Aisha Jefferson and Mia Johnson to injury, MSU is returning only one of its top five scorers from last season (Allyssa DeHaan).

The young Spartans are returning just 25 percent of their points (536), 24 percent of their rebounds (323) and 24 percent of their minutes (1,595) from 2006-07. Overall, MSU's 11 active players consist of nine freshmen and sophomores, and just two seniors (not including junior forward Aisha Jefferson, who is out for the season; and junior Mia Johnson, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury).



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