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Spartans Head To Mexico For Caribbean Challenge

Nov. 18, 2007

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader


Caribbean Challenge Information
Where: Moon Palace Resort • Cancun, Mexico

Game 1: vs. Northern Illinois (2-1)
When: Wednesday, Nov. 21 • 1:30 p.m. ET

Game 2: vs. Kansas State (2-1)
When: Thursday, Nov. 22 • 9 p.m. ET

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

Series History vs. Northern Illinois: NIU leads, 2-1
Last meeting: @ NIU 58, MSU 55 (11/24/91)

vs. Kansas State: First meeting.

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 203-121 (13th year)
At MSU: 2-1 (first year)

NIU: Carol Owens (Northern Illinois, 1990)
Overall: 33-30 (third year)
At NIU: same

KSU: Deb Patterson (Rockford College, 1979)
Overall: 220-129 (12th year)
At KSU: same

After going 2-1 in the Preseason WNIT to start the season, the Michigan State women's basketball team heads south of the border to compete in the Caribbean Challenge Nov. 21-22 in Cancun, Mexico. MSU will play two games at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun. First up is Northern Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:30 p.m., followed by a contest against Kansas State on Thursday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. Audio of both games will be available at WVFN 730 AM and, but live stats will not be provided for either game.

The Spartans opened the 2007-08 campaign with convincing wins over IUPUI (65-35) and Evansville (73-53) in the first two rounds of the Preseason WNIT in East Lansing. MSU fell in the semifinals at No. 4/4 LSU last Thursday (Nov. 15) in Baton Rouge, La., 64-41.

Both Northern Illinois and Kansas State head to Mexico with 2-1 records. NIU has defeated Bradley (54-48) and Western Illinois (60-59) and lost to Chicago State (64-57). In their last game on Nov. 15, the Huskies beat Western Illinois on a last-second layup with three seconds remaining.

Kansas State returns four starters from last season's team that went 19-15 and advanced to the WNIT Final Four. The Wildcats opened with home wins over Washington and Southern Utah before falling at Wyoming.

Michigan State was ranked 17th in last week's Associated Press poll and 18th in the Coaches' poll. This week's AP poll will be released Monday, Nov. 19, while the Coaches' poll is released on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Triple Crown Sports hosts the 2007 Caribbean Challenge which will be held in Cancun, Mexico on Nov. 21-23, 2007.

The women's field features Arizona State, Iowa, Kansas State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma and Tulane. Six of the eight teams participating in Cancun advanced to postseason play last season, highlighted by ASU's NCAA Elite Eight achievement and Oklahoma's Sweet 16 showing. Currently positioned in the AP Top 25 Rankings are Oklahoma, Arizona State and Michigan State.

Tipping off the Caribbean Challenge on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007, will be Northern Illinois vs. Michigan State and Kansas State vs. Tulane. On the Thanksgiving holiday all eight teams will compete starting with Mississippi State vs. Iowa, followed by Arizona State vs. Oklahoma, Tulane vs. Northern Illinois and Michigan State vs. Kansas State. The final day of competition bids Oklahoma vs. Mississippi State and Iowa vs. Arizona State.

The Caribbean Challenge is sponsored by Triple Crown Sports, which produces women's college basketball events. TCS has run both the Post and Preseason WNIT for the past 14 years.

• 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 three games, DeHaan leads the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). She ranks first in the Big Ten in blocks (19 total, 6.3 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 (7.0 ppg) and Alisa Wulff (1.0 ppg) and sophomore guards Mandy Piechowski (2.0 ppg) and Takeya Fortner all return for MSU.
• Sophomore center Lauren Aitch (6.0 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 (5.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) and forwards Kalisha Keane (9.3 ppg), Cetera Washington (8.3 ppg) and Taja Wilson (7.0 ppg). Thomas, Keane and Washington have all started the first three games for MSU. The freshman have combined for 50 percent (89 points) of the team's 59.7 points a game 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).

• The Huskies return two starters and six letterwinners from last season's team that finished 19-12 overall and third in the MAC East Division with an 8-8 league mark.
• Junior guard Jesse Wilcox leads the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game.
• The Huskies are averaging 57.0 points a game, and allowing 57.0 points a game.
• NIU has defeated Bradley (54-48) and Western Illinois (60-59) and lost to Chicago State (64-57).
• In their last game on Nov. 15, the Huskies beat Western Illinois on a last-second layup with three seconds remaining.

• This marks the first meeting between the two schools.
• Kansas State returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last season's team that finished 19-15 overall and advanced to the Postseason WNIT Final Four.
• The Wildcats tied for 11th in the Big 12 last year with a 4-12 conference mark.
• KSU beat Washington (86-61) and Southern Utah (87-38) in its first two games at home.
• The Wildcats are coming off a 56-44 loss at Wyoming on Thursday, Nov. 15.
• Preseason All-Big 12 selection Shalee Lehning leads the team in scoring with 15.3 ppg. The junior guard has started 65 consecutive games.



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