No. 15 Women's Basketball Hosts Iona on Sunday

Dec. 11, 2010

No. 15/20 Michigan State (9-1) vs. Iona (2-5)
 Date Sunday, Dec. 12
 Time 2 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television none
 Radio WVFN 730 AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
Rick Berkey - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst
 Tickets Available at | Gameday Answers
Game Notes Michigan State | Iona
Statistics Michigan State | Iona
 Internet Coverage (Pay-Per-View)
Live Stats (Mobile Users) | Gametracker
 Get to Know Her Day Annalise Pickrel | Get to Know Her information
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

If any fan brings a new unwrapped toy to put on the Dean Trailways bus in front of Gate B to Sunday's game, they will receive two (2) free general admission tickets for the game as well as two (2) free general admission tickets to the final non-conference game against Vermont on December 21. All proceeds will go to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

The Gaels enter the weekend with a 2-5 record, coming off a 71-57 win at Stony Brook on Dec. 5. Iona is led by Kristina Ford's 13.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Anda Ivkovic is the only other Gael in double-figures with 13.0 points in only 24.0 minutes. Suzi Fregosi is 68th in the country with 4.7 assists per game. Iona is averaging only 58.7 points per game, while allowing 67.7. The Gaels are also shooting only 36.0% from the field, 28.5% from behind the arc and are -6.7 on the boards.

Michigan State won the only previous meeting with Iona. The Spartans traveled to New Rochelle on Dec. 30, 1985 and picked up a 91-68 victory.

Michigan State's 9-1 record over the first 10 games, ties for the best start in program history with the 2001-02, 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams. The 2004-05 started 12-1 for the best start in MSU history, while the 2003-05 team went 10-1 and the 2001-02 team lost its next game.

Junior Lykendra Johnson was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. Johnson earns the weekly honor for the first time in her career and is the first Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan on Feb. 1, 2010. Johnson posted double-doubles in both MSU wins, averaging 15.5 points, 11.0 rebounds (5.0 offensive), 5.0 steals, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. She also shot 60.9% from the field for the week. On Wednesday at No. 15 Florida State, she narrowly missed a triple-double with 11 points, a game- and season-high 11 rebounds and a career-high nine steals. Johnson followed it up with team-highs in points (20) and rebounds (11) against No. 17 Texas.

With a pair of wins over nationally-ranked opponents this past week, the Spartans saw their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State jumped from 25th in both polls to No. 15 in the Associated Press and No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 15 AP ranking is their highest in-season ranking since Feb. 20, 2006 (No. 14). The move in the AP poll was the largest by any team since Rutgers jumped 10 spots during the 2004-05 season.

Michigan State is one of three teams in the country to have two wins over top-25 opponents so far this season. The Spartans won at No. 15 Florida State on Dec. 1 and followed that up with a home win over No. 17 Texas on Dec. 5. Joining MSU is Baylor and USC. In all, 19 teams have one win over a nationally-ranked team.

Junior Lykendra Johnson has been a beast on the boards over the past four games, posting double-figure rebounds in three of the four games, including a career high 16 against Milwaukee on Wednesday. Her 16 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 against Cal State-Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. Johnson is also the first Spartan to have three-straight double-digit rebound games since DeHaan from Dec. 22-31, 2006.

During those four games, Johnson is averaging 11.0 rebounds per game, increasing her season average to 7.3. Before the streak, she was not among the conference's top-20, but now ranks eighth in rebounding.

Johnson has also improved her numbers on the offensive boards, grabbing 5.2 per game over the last five games. She is now third in the Big Ten with 3.4 per game on the season.

In the last three games, Michigan State is averaging 17.3 offensive rebounds per game, grabbing 43.0% of their missed shots. During the stretch, Lykendra Johnson has averaged 5.0 offensive boards, while Cetera Washington has pulled down 3.0 a game.

Junior Taylor Alton provided the spark off the bench that the Spartans needed on Friday night to get past Western Michigan. She entered the game having played only 38 minutes and scored 21 points in seven games. However, Alton exploded for 15 points in 23 minutes, both career highs. She went 3-of-5 from behind the arc and now leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 66.7% (8-of-12).

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 35-4, including winning their last 18 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 56-6. During its seven game winning streak, MSU has held six of its seven opponents under 60 points. The seven opponents have combined to average 52.0 points per game.

MSU had a stretch of five-straight games of double-figure steals snapped on Friday at Western Michigan. It is the first time that the Spartans have had at least 10 steals in five-straight games since the 2005-06 team have six straight from Jan. 29-Feb 16.

Individually, three Spartans are among the conference's top-seven in steals, led by junior Lykendra Johnson who leads the Big Ten with 2.9 per game. She had a career-high nine steals at Florida State, which tied for the second most in program history and were the most by an MSU player since Jamie Wesley grabbed a program record 12 steals on Feb. 2, 1996 against Minnesota. It was also the most in the Big Ten since Purdue's FahKara Malone had nine against Portland on Nov. 20, 2008. The nine steals also tie for the second-most in the nation this season. Seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas are tied for seventh with 2.2 steals per game. Thomas had a career-high eight steals on Sunday against Texas. Her eight steals is tied for the sixth-most in program history.

Junior Porsche Poole spent a lot time this summer working on her conditioning and her shooting. Her hard work has paid off early in the 2010-11 season, as she is averaging a career-high 8.1 points to rank her fourth on the team. Poole started her first collegiate game on Wednesday. She has already topped her career high twice this season, including 18 points in last Wednesday's upset win at No. 15 Florida State. For the first time in her career, Poole scored in double-figures in three-straight games, a stretch that was snapped on Friday. In her career, MSU is 12-1 when she scores double-figures.

Poole has specifically seen huge improvements in her shooting from 3-point range. She entered the season, shooting 25.0% (20-of-80) from behind the arc in her first two years, but so far this season she is seventh in the Big Ten with a 46.9% (15-of-32) clip.

Senior Brittney Thomas has seen an increase in her offensive production of late, as she has scored in double-figures in four of the last six games. It is the first time in her career that she has tallied double-figure points in three-straight games. Over the past six games, B. Thomas is averaging 11.2 points, compared to 5.8 over the first four. For her career, MSU is 8-0 when she leads the Spartans in scoring.

The Spartans have made 75 3-pointers through the first 10 games this season, ranking second in the Big Ten. The 75 makes are the most to begin a season in program history. Nine different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 26 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her third in the conference.

MSU already has three games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.

Against Richmond and Florida State, MSU combined for 20 made 3-pointers. The 20 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season when it made 19 3-pointers over the first two games.

Not only is MSU one of the best teams in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, but it is also second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 27.4% clip (34-of-124). The 3.4 allowed per game is best in the Big Ten.

Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list with 1,202, after her 12 points on Friday. Keane is also fourth in steals (202), sixth in free throw percentage (80.5%), sixth in 3-point field goals made (136), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.5%), 15th in field goals made (427), 17th in assists (251), 15th in games played (113), 18th in minutes played (2,899) and 20th in free throws made (210).

Classmate Brittney Thomas is 11th all-time with 329 assists and second all-time with 32.9 minutes per game. Her 329 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also eighth all-time with 99 games started, eighth with 3,321 minutes played and 18th with 167 steals. Thomas played her 100th game as a Spartan on Wednesday.

Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 202 and 167, respectively.

Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is currently third among active conference players in points, fifth in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals.

Michigan State is in the midst of a stretch of seven of eight games at home, and does not leave the state of Michigan until a trip to Ohio State on Jan. 16. The stretch is the longest since the 1974-75 team played all 18 games in the state.

Senior Cetera Washington was always thought of as being a defensive specialist, who's scoring would be a bonus. However, early in her final season, she has shown she can also be an offensive weapon for the 2010-11 Spartans. Entering the season, Washington had only two career double-figure scoring outputs in 102 career games, but she has already reached double-digits twice this season, doubling her career total. In fact, she had only scored at least seven points in 10 career games entering 2010-11, a feat she has reached four times this season. Washington is fifth on the team averaging 5.7 points and second with 5.9 rebounds. She entered the season with career averages of 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds.

The Spartans have the fourth most blocks in the nation in the last four-plus seasons with 862 (North Carolina - 965, Baylor - 933, Connecticut - 861). However, they are third in blocks per game average at 5.9 (North Carolina - 6.5, Baylor - 6.4). The Spartans had been among the NCAA leaders in blocks each of those four years, finishing the season seventh in 2009-10, eighth in 2008-09, 11th in 2007-08 and fourth in 2006-07.

Early in the 2010-11 season, the Spartans are ranked seventh by and 10th according to As a conference, the Big Ten is first in RPI overall by and

The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past seven seasons. MSU has won 13th straight overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. The streak is the longest such run among Big Ten schools. Surprisingly, only two of the 13 wins have come at home. MSU's last overtime loss came on Feb. 28, 2002 against Ohio State, 89-82, in the Big Ten Tournament.

The 2010-11 basketball season is the Spartans' 22nd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 217-78 (.736) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 83-16 (.838) since 2003, including winning its last 10 games.

For the past six-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In each of the last six years, the Spartans have been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 6,382 fans per game entering this season, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Purdue. MSU has finished as high as ninth in the country in 2006-07, while the single-season school record is 6,787, set in the 2005-06 season. Last season against Washington (Dec. 19), the Spartans surpassed 1 million fans all-time at Breslin Center. In the 22-year history at Breslin, 1,099,963 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.

This season, the Spartans lead the Big Ten with 6,464 fans per game. On Sunday, the third largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.

Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 77-36 (.681) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 278-156 (.641) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

Michigan State is 5-1 all-time on December 12, but have not played on this date since 1998.