Nov. 29, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The No. 21/18 Michigan State women's basketball team opens the month of December by hosting IPFW on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Spartans (5-1), who are riding a five-game winning streak, are led offensively by freshman Tori Jankoska's 15.2 points off the bench. Jankoska posted her first career double-double on Tuesday at Temple.
The Mastodons enter the weekend with a 3-4 record but have won their last three games. IPFW is averaging 76.1 points per game, led by 21.1 points from Amanda Hyde. Hyde scored 41 points in IPFW's last game on Tuesday at SIU-Edwardsville. Hyde, who also leads the team with 3.1 assists, has been the the free throw line 69 times already this season, boasting an 85.5-percentage. As a team, the Mastodons are shooting 46.3% from the field, 33.1% from the 3-point line (6.4 per game) and 73.5% from the foul line, but are -3.6 in rebound margin.
AGAINST THE MASTODONS
Michigan State leads the all-time series against IPFW, 3-0. The two schools have met each of the last three seasons, all in East Lansing.
Both Kiana Johnson and Becca Mills are averaging double-figure points in the two previous meetings with the Mastodons. Mills has posted a line of 11.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 25.5 minutes, while Johnson has averaged 10.5 points, 5.0 assists and 2.5 steals in 30.5 minutes. Annalise Pickrel is averaging 8.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.0 minutes vs. IPFW.
LAST MEETING (MSU 64, IPFW 36 - Dec. 16, 2012 - Jenison Field House)
Recap | Box Score
- As part of the Game of Change Weekend, the Spartans returned to Jenison Field House for the first time since March 11, 1989.
- Annalise Pickrel led MSU in scoring for the first time in her career, posting 15 points and seven rebounds, while Becca Mills added 13 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Courtney Schiffauer posted her second consecutive double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kiana Johnson dished out a game-high six assists and grabbed three steals off the bench.
- The Spartans dominated the first half, taking a 40-11 lead into intermission. The Mastodons held it close, 8-4 with 13:58 to go in the first, but Michigan State responded with 19-straight points as part of a 28-2 run.
- The 11 first half points allowed were the fewest in the first half and the third fewest in any half since the 1974-75 season.
- The MSU defense held IPFW to 28.3% shooting from the field, including 18.8% (3-for-16) from behind the arc. MSU forced 22 turnovers and held a 25-2 advantage in points off turnovers. The Spartans outrebounded the Mastodons 47-30, including 21 offensive boards.
- The Spartans held IPFW's leading scorer Amanda Hyde (20.3 points per game), to nine points, all in the second half, on 2-of-12 shooting.
QUICK HITTERS FROM TUESDAY (No. 21/18 MICHIGAN STATE 74, TEMPLE 70)
- The Spartans trailed for a good portion of the game, including by nine points early in the second half, but picked up their first road win.
- Tori Jankoska had her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding a season-high four assists. Jankoska became the third different Spartan to post a double-double this season.
- Jankoska went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, her 10 makes were the most by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011.
- Annalise Pickrel added 18 points, while Becca Mills had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Kiana Johnson had 10 points and six assists.
- It is the first time since 2005 that Michigan State has scored at least 70 points in five-straight games.
- MSU went 29-for-36 (80.6%) from the free throw line. The makes are the most since MSU made 30 against Rutgers on Jan. 7, 2006.
- Michigan State ended the month of November at 5-1. Under Coach Merchant, the Spartans are 37-8 in the month.
- Michigan State held a 42-30 margin in rebounding.
- The Spartans improved to 4-0 all-time against Temple.
Early on in the 2013-14 season, the Spartans have been extremely efficient offensively and are looking like one of the best offensive teams during Coach Merchant's tenure at Michigan State. Currently, MSU leads the Big Ten in assists (17.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.16), while also second in field goal percentage (48.8%), and third in points (82.5) and 3-pointers (6.5).
Currently, Michigan State has scored at least 70 points in five-straight games for the first time in since 2005. To begin this stretch, the Spartans scored 80 or more points in four-straight games for the first time in program history.
The Spartans totaled 198 points in the back-to-back games against Canisius (102) and No. 23/21 Dayton (96). The total was the most points in consecutive games in MSU history (The previous high was 190 in the first two games of the 1990-91 season.) The Spartans' 102 points vs. Canisius was the eighth most in school history and marked just the 12th 100-point game all-time.
Also in the Canisius game, MSU shot 63.3% from the field (the highest field goal pct. since shooting 64.9% vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 13, 2009), made 12 3-pointers (tying for the third-most in a MSU single-game) and scored 61 first half points (setting a record for the most points in any half in Breslin Center history and was the most points in a half by MSU since also scoring 61 in the second half vs. North Carolina A&T on Nov. 12, 2011).
EFFECTIVENESS FROM THE FIELD
As a team, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 48.8%, while individually, three Spartans are among the top-15 in the conference. Branndais Agee leads the way in fifth at 58.1%, while Annalise Pickrel is 11th (53.4%) and Aerial Powers is 14th (51.9%).
Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field three times in the first six games. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
COMFORTABLE AT HOME
The Spartans just completed a perfect 4-0 homestand last weekend. Michigan State's offensive numbers at home so far this season have been impressive. In the four home games, the Spartans are averaging 89.8 points, while shooting 52.2% from the field and 41.8% from 3-point, where they made 8.3 per game. MSU dished out 18.8 assists to just 14.0 turnovers.
Offensively Michigan State has been extremely in the second half this season. In the final stanza, the Spartans are averaging 42.7 points while shooting 54.0% from the field, compared to 36.8 points and 43.2% shooting in the first half. They have shot over 50% in five of the six games, including over 60% on two occasions.
Individually, Becca Mills has seen the biggest differential between first half and second half numbers. Mills is averaging 7.2 points and shooting 57.1% in the second half, compared to 3.8 points and 34.6% shooting in the first 20 minutes.
In the overtime win over No. 23/21 Dayton, three Spartans posted at over 20 points - Tori Jankoska (24), Aerial Powers (24) and Annalise Pickrel (21). It was the first time since Feb. 8, 1998 that three MSU players reached 20 points in the same game.
Last Saturday, Becca Mills became the fourth Spartan to score at least 20 points in a game. MSU and Ohio State are the only two teams in the Big Ten to have four different 20-point scorers this season.
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.
As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 38-13 record, while averaging 9.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.9 minutes.
Each season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.
This season, Bell is fifth on the team with 10.2 points, but is second in and assists (3.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2), both top-15 in the Big Ten. She has been efficient from the field, shooting 50.0% from the field, 37.5% from the 3-point line and 81.8% from the foul line; all of which would be career highs.
The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%.
PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through six games, she leads the team with 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, in addition to averaging 14.2 points (second on the team) and 2.8 assists (third on the team) in 30.3 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 53.4% from the field, 37.5% from the 3-point line (6-for-16) and 85.0% (17-for-20) from the free throw line. Among Big Ten players, Pickrel is 11th in field goal percentage and free throw percentage, 14th in rebounds and blocks, and 15th in points.
In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. With her stat line, Pickrel became the first Spartan since Kalisha Keane on Dec. 8, 2007 vs. Indiana State to tally at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.
Her greatest asset last season was her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU.
Pickrel is currently 12th in Spartan history with 90 3-point field goals made, while ranking sixth with a career 35.2% 3-point field goal percentage.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks sixth on the Spartan career list with 4.1 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.87 (256:137), which is second in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is fifth in the Big Ten and leads the team with 4.8 assists per game, and leads the conference with a 4.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Over her last three games, she has 19 assists and only two turnovers.
An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last season, Johnson has also been effective scoring the ball, averaging 9.3 points as a sophomore, tying for third on the team. She led MSU in free throw percentage (81.6%) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.0%). Defensively, Johnson led MSU with 1.9 steals last season, and currently is seventh on the MSU career steals list at 1.8.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills is going to be asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant has praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations.
Mills has opened the 2013-14 season with back-to-back double-figure scoring games, but struggled against Dayton and Detroit, before coming alive on Saturday vs. Rice. Mills tied her career high with 20 points, going 8-for-14 from the field. Over the last two games, Mills is averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds. For the season, she is third on the team with 11.0 points and second with 6.3 rebounds, which is 19th in the Big Ten, in 28.0 minutes.
Freshman Tori Jankoska has made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. Despite coming off the bench, the 5-8 guard leads Michigan State in scoring with 15.2 points per game, which is also 11th in the Big Ten. Jankoska has been a tremendous threat from behind the arc, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.2), while shooting 38.2%. Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.
On Tuesday at Temple, Jankoska gathered her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, a season high. She also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, the most free throws made by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011 (Brittney Thomas vs. Purdue).
Against Dayton, Jankoska and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each scored 24 points. It was the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette on April 5, 2008.
Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers return from season-ending injuries. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.
Both players are expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. Recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, she is fourth on the team with 10.8 points, while also avergaing a balanced line of 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a team-best 2.3 steals in just 21.7 minutes. Powers is also 14th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (51.9%), in addition to ranking eighth in steals.
Agee has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 7.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in only 13.3 minutes. She leads the team and is fifth in the Big Ten with a 58.1% field goal percentage.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. When the Spartans have scored at least 70 points, their record is 62-4 (93.9%), including winning their last 44 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 112-10 (91.8%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 85 of their last 86 games (98.8%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 36 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 127-5 (96.2%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
In Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 145-63 (69.7%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 145 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (154). Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.
In conference games, she is 69-33 (67.6%), ranking her 12th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 69 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (71).
Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 254-84 (.751) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 48 of its last 54 games (.889).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans ended their home schedule last season ranked 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten with 6,352 fans per game. It marked the ninth-straight season that the Spartans have been among the nation's top-15 in attendance, and the third consecutive year their have been in the top-10.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 5-1 all-time on Dec. 1.
Suzy Merchant RADIO SHOW
The Suzy Merchant Radio Show will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The show, typically held on Wednesdays if no conflicts, is held 12-1 p.m. at Reno's East on Abbott Road. It can be heard locally on WVFN 730AM or at SpartanSportsNetwork.com. This season shows will be Dec. 3 (Tues.), Dec 11, Jan. 2 (Thurs.), Jan. 8, Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 4 (Tues.), Feb. 12, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 4 (Tues.).