Spartans Brace for Another Tough Road Contest, Take on Old Dominion Sunday
 
 
 
Brittney Thomas is second in the Big Ten with 4.9 assists per game.
 
Brittney Thomas is second in the Big Ten with 4.9 assists per game.
 
 

Dec. 1, 2007

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Gametracker vs. Old Dominion

TIPOFF - GAME 8

No. 20/19 MICHIGAN STATE (6-1) vs. OLD DOMINION (5-2)

Game Information
When: Sunday, Dec. 2 • 2 p.m.
Where: Ted Constant Convocation Center (8,600) • Norfolk, Va.

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

Series History
This marks the first meeting between the two schools.

Coaches
MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 207-121 (13th year)
At MSU: 6-1 (first year)

ODU: Wendy Larry (Old Dominion, 1977)
Overall: 526-192 (24th year)
At ODU: 477-162 (21st year)

SPARTANS BRACE FOR ANOTHER TOUGH ROAD GAME, TAKE ON OLD DOMINION SUNDAY
The No. 20/19 Michigan State women's basketball team (6-1) takes a four-game winning streak into Norfolk, Va., this Sunday to take on traditional power Old Dominion. The Monarchs are 5-2 overall this season, with their only losses coming at the hands of No. 2 Connecticut and No. 6 Stanford. On Thursday, ODU crushed Penn State in Norfolk, 77-49. Old Dominion, who also beat Purdue in the Paradise Jam last week, is receiving votes in both polls.

The Spartans are fresh off a 68-51 victory over Clemson on Thursday in the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge. It marked MSU's first home game since Nov. 11, but the Spartans are right back on the road for games at Old Dominion and Indiana State (Dec. 8) before hosting No. 9 Oklahoma on Dec. 16. MSU is in the midst of playing eight of 10 games away from the friendly confines of the Breslin Center.

Sophomore 6-9 center Allyssa DeHaan had her best game of the young season against Clemson with 26 points and 13 rebounds on 11-for-19 shooting from the field. DeHaan leads the team and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring with 17.2 ppg. She is also fifth in the league in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and field-goal percentage (58.3 percent) and first in blocks (36, 5.1 pg).

Joining DeHaan in the post, sophomore center Lauren Aitch also played a stellar game in the win over Clemson, recording career highs with 16 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting. Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas played a solid all-around game, tallying season bests in points (nine) and rebounds (nine) while tying a season best with six assists.

With the win over Clemson, first-year head coach Suzy Merchant became the first coach in Spartan history to begin her tenure with a 6-1 record. Merchant is 207-121 overall in her 13th year as a head coach.

OLD DOMINION ONE OF THE TOP WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY
Old Dominion is one of the winningest women's college basketball programs in the nation. The Monarchs have won 16 consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles, have appeared in three Final Fours (1983, 1985, 1997) and won the 1985 National Championship. The 16 straight conference titles are an NCAA record. The Lady Monarchs also won the 1978-79 and 1979-80 AIAW national titles. Last season, Old Dominion earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but fell to 10th-seeded Florida State in the first round.

The Monarchs are led by 21st-year head coach Wendy Larry. Entering the 2007-08 season, Larry ranked 17th in NCAA women's basketball history with 521 career victories.

This season, Old Dominion is looking strong in its bid for a 17th straight CAA title. The Monarchs are averaging 70.1 points a game, led by senior guard T.J. Jordan, who is pouring in 15.9 ppg. ODU is forcing more than 23 turnovers a game, and caused 30 turnovers in its 77-49 win over Penn State on Thursday. Old Dominion also pounces on the offensive glass, hauling in more than 18.3 a game.

YOUNG SPARTANS GETTING HELP FROM FRESHMEN CLASS
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, 24 percent of their rebounds and 24 percent of their minutes from 2006-07. Overall, MSU's 11 active players consist of nine freshmen and sophomores, and just two seniors. The Spartans have started three freshmen (Kalisha Keane, Brittney Thomas and Cetera Washington) in every game this season.

Thus far, the freshmen have responded, accounting for 43 percent of MSU's points and 42 percent of the team's rebounds. Keane is second on the team and 12th in the Big Ten in scoring with 12.4 ppg; Thomas is second in the Big Ten in assists (4.9 pg); and Washington averages 5.7 ppg and 3.6 rpg. Off the bench, Taja Wilson is scoring 3.4 ppg in 9.7 minutes of action.

Keane, Thomas and Washington became the first freshmen trio to start at MSU since the 2001-02 season, when Kristin Haynie, Joy Johnson and Kelli Roehrig started. The trio of Haynie, Johnson and Roehrig started the first five games of the 2001-02 season.

OF NOTE...
Suzy Merchant is the first coach in Spartan history to begin her tenure 6-1.
Allyssa DeHaan leads the Big Ten in blocks with 36 (5.1 pg).
Brittney Thomas is second in the Big Ten with 4.9 assists per game.
Courtney Davidson is averaging career bests in points (7.0) and minutes (24.7) and is fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (.458).

LAST TIME OUT - MICHIGAN STATE 68, CLEMSON 51 - NOV. 29 - BRESLIN CENTER
Allyssa DeHaan had a season-high 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 20 Michigan State to a 68-51 win over Clemson in the inaugural Big Ten-ACC Women's Basketball Challenge. DeHaan was 11-for-19 from the field and hit a wide variety of shots en route to her first double-double this season. She also had four blocked shots. Reserve Lauren Aitch had a career-high 16 points and nine rebounds for the Spartans.

Lauren Aitch scored a career-high 16 points vs. Clemson.


April Parker had 13 points and D'Lesha Lloyd added 10 for the Tigers (4-3), who led 12-8 before Michigan State took control.

A 26-10 surge to end the first half made it 34-22 at the break. The Spartans stretched their lead to 21 points with a strong start in the second half, then survived a five-minute scoring drought to protect their lead.

SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT
Michigan State has shot better than 50 percent in three games this season - a mark it only reached five times last season. MSU shot a season-high 57.9 percent at Delaware State, and also shot over 50 percent against Evansville (56.9 percent) and Northern Illinois (52.3). The Spartans are first in the Big Ten with a 46.7 percent field-goal percentage.

SHOOTING THE LIGHTS OUT PT. 2
MSU is also shooting the ball exceptionally well from the free-throw line, ranking second in the league at 78.4 percent. The Spartans shot 16-of-17 from the line in the three-point win at Delaware State, including 6-for-6 in the final minute. MSU went 13-for-14 in the first game against IUPUI and shot 18-for-19 in the win over Northern Illinois. MSU made a season-high 22 free throws in the win against Kansas State. MSU has shot equal or more free-throw attempts than its opponent in every game this season, and has made more free throws (91) than its opponents have attempted (70).

In the final two minutes of games, MSU is shooting 82 percent from the line (18-22). Courtney Davidson is a perfect 8-for-8 during that stretch, including 4-for-4 at Delaware State in the final minute.

BIG TEN NETWORK DEBUT A SUCCESS
Michigan State made its first appearance on the Big Ten Network a memorable one with a 68-51 victory over Clemson on Nov. 29 in the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge. The Spartans are scheduled to appear on the network seven more times during the regular season, including a date with No. 9 Oklahoma on Dec. 16.

HOW ABOUT THAT DEFENSE
The Spartans lead the Big Ten in scoring defense (52.9 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (32.8 percent) and rank second in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (24.3 percent).

MSU has held six teams under 40-percent shooting, including five under 33 percent. The only team to shoot over 40 percent was LSU (47.1 percent).