Spartans Head East to Take on Providence and Hartford

Dec. 19, 2007

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No. 23/24 MICHIGAN STATE (7-3) at PROVIDENCE (8-2)

Game Information
When: Thursday, Dec. 20 • 12 p.m.
Where: Alumni Hall (2,600) • Providence, R.I.

Media Coverage
TV: Cox Sports TV Channel 3 (Tape delay; New England Local TV)
Radio: WVFN 730 AM and (Rick Berkey: Play-by-Play)
Internet: Gametracker at

Series History
Overall: MSU leads, 3-0
Last meeting: MSU 73, @ Providence 54 (12/20/02)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 208-123 (13th year)
At MSU: 7-3 (first year)

PC: Phil Seymore (Canisius, 1989)
Overall: 29-37 (third year)
At PC: same

SPARTANS FINISH NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE WITH ROAD GAMES AT PROVIDENCE AND HARTFORD The No. 23/24 Michigan State women's basketball team will wrap up its non-conference portion of the schedule with road games at Providence and Hartford this week. The Spartans take on Providence Thursday, Dec. 20 at noon and Hartford Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. Out of MSU's 12 non-conference games this season, eight are away from the Breslin Center, the most since 1981-82.

The Spartans are coming off a hard-fought 66-55 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma Sunday at the Breslin Center. MSU led by 11 points at halftime, 28-17, and was up most of the second half. After the Spartans went up 53-46 with 5:44 remaining, the Sooners closed the game on a 20-2 run. Oklahoma (7-2), whose only losses are to No. 1 Tennessee and No. 4 Maryland, hit six free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. Courtney Davidson and Alisa Wulff each recorded career highs with 18 and 14 points, respectively.

Providence enters Thursday's game on a four-game winning streak. The Friars are 8-2 overall with wins over Brown, Iona, Manhattan, Florida International, Fordham, Rhode Island, Harvard and Central Connecticut and losses to Hartford and Illinois. Sophomore guard Kendria Holmes leads the team with 12.3 ppg.

Hartford (9-2) has won three games in a row, owns an RPI of 20 and is receiving votes in the Coaches' Poll. The Hawks have beaten the likes of BYU, Virginia, St. John's and Marist, while their only losses have come to Kansas and UMass. Michigan State defeated Hartford in the Spartan Clash last season at the Palace, 58-45. The Hawks are led by ninth-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, who is the school's all-time winningest coach at 153-100. She has won three America East tournament titles and two regular-season championships.

Allyssa DeHaan became MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots after recording five against Oklahoma on Sunday, upping her total to 199. She reached the mark in just 43 career games. Kristen Rasmussen previously held the record with 194 blocks in 118 career games.

DeHaan, who set the Big Ten single-season record with 145 blocked shots her freshman year, is on pace for 162 blocks through the regular season. She currently leads the nation with 54 blocks through 10 games (5.4 avg.). The NCAA single-season record for blocked shots is held by Amie Williams of Jackson State, who had 152 in 2003.

The NCAA career record is 480, set by TCU's Sandora Irvin from 2002-05. Jessica Davenport of Ohio State owns the Big Ten career record with 384.

With 199 blocks in 43 games, Allyssa DeHaan is just one block away from becoming the fastest player in NCAA Division I history to reach the 200-block milestone while playing in her freshman and sophomore seasons. By comparison, Sandora Irvin, the NCAA's all-time blocks leader, had just 134 blocks in 43 contests, and Oklahoma's Courtney Paris needed 60 games to reach 200 blocks.

Allyssa DeHaan is on all three major national player of the year watch lists: the Naismith, the Wade and the Wooden.

After reviewing the Indiana State game film, Allyssa DeHaan has been officially credited with nine blocks, tying her own single-game school record set last season against Indiana on Dec. 28, 2006. DeHaan, who was originally credited with eight blocks, came up just short of recording her first career triple-double as she finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks.

Allyssa DeHaan is one of just 24 players in the nation to be named to the three most prestigious national player of the year watch lists (Naismith Trophy; Wade Trophy; Wooden Award). In addition, she is one of only three Big Ten players (Jolene Anderson-Wisconsin; Marscilla Packer-Ohio State) and one of three sophomores (Jayne Appel-Stanford; Tina Charles-Connecticut) to be named on all three lists.

Much like a no-hitter in baseball, it's hard to bring up a current streak without feeling the threat of jinxing it. That said, Allyssa DeHaan has made 24 consecutive free throws, bolstering her free-throw percentage to 90.2, which is the second-best mark in the Big Ten. Lindsay Bowen holds the MSU record with 37 straight free throws, which she set during the 2002-03 season. DeHaan's streak is currently the sixth best in MSU history.

The State Farm Wade Trophy Committee decided unanimously to add Michigan State sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan to the 2007-2008 State Farm Wade Watch List, the committee announced Dec. 11. She joined the pool of 25 players selected during the preseason. DeHaan is one of just three sophomores on the list. The committee elected to add DeHaan to the Wade Watch based on her on-court success early on in the season.

The renowned "Wade Watch" list for the State Farm Wade Trophy is comprised of student-athletes who are members of an NCAA Division I institution and are selected based on the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability. The national awards committee who selects these candidates is comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball administrators. The last Spartan to be named to the Wade Watch List was Liz Shimek during the 2005-06 season.

Allyssa DeHaan is one of just two Spartans in program history to earn back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Week honors. She was named the league's player of the week Dec. 3 after averaging 18.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in MSU's three games, including a 26-point effort against Clemson. She followed that by nearly collecting a triple-double at Indiana State, recording 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks, and was again named player of the week on Dec. 10. Overall, she was won the award four times in her career, the second-best total in MSU history (Liz Shimek: five).

With the Michigan State football team playing its first bowl game in four years on Friday, Dec. 28 at 5 p.m. vs. Boston College in the Champs Sports Bowl, the MSU Athletics Department has announced that the women's basketball game vs. Minnesota in the Breslin Center scheduled for 7 p.m. that same night has been moved up to 2 p.m.

• 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. However, only one starter from last year is currently in the lineup (Allyssa DeHaan). MSU's starting lineup features three freshman, one sophomore and one senior. Out of MSU's 12 active players, nine are freshmen and sophomores. MSU is the only team in the Big Ten to start three freshmen (Brittney Thomas, Cetera Washington and Kalisha Keane) in every game this season.

Courtney Davidson scored a career-high 18 points vs. No. 9 Oklahoma.

• Sophomore 6-9 center Allyssa DeHaan, who set a Big Ten and NCAA Divison I freshman record last season with 145 blocked shots, leads the country with 54 blocked shots (5.4 pg). 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 after averaging 12.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Through 10 games, DeHaan leads the team in scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg). DeHaan, MSU's all-time leader in blocked shots with 199, is on national player of the year watch lists for the Naismith Trophy, the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award.

• The Spartans lost power foward 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 tri-captain, junior guard Mia Johnson, tore her ACL during summer workouts and missed the first eight games of the season. Originally not expected back until the start of Big Ten season, Johnson saw her first action of 2007-08 with two minutes at Indiana State (Dec. 8). 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.

• Sophomore center Lauren Aitch (8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg), who received a medical redshirt last season due to a torn ACL, is back and healthy this season. Coming off the bench, she has scored in double figures four times this season, including a career-best 16-point performance vs. Clemson Nov. 29.

• 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 (4.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg) and forwards Kalisha Keane (12.9 ppg), Cetera Washington (4.6 ppg) and Taja Wilson (3.1 ppg). Thomas, Keane and Washington have started every game for the Spartans.

• Senior guard Courtney Davidson is having her most productive season as a Spartan. She is averaging career bests in points (9.6) and minutes (26.6). She is third in the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage (.447) and fourth in 3-pointers made (21).

• Senior tri-captain Alisa Wulff entered this season never starting a game while scoring 51 points and making nine 3-pointers in 32 career games for the Spartans. In her senior year, she has started every game and has scored 44 points with 12 3-pointers, including a career-best 14 points vs. No. 9 Oklahoma on Dec. 16.

MSU has quietly played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Big Ten. The Spartans are playing the most non-league road games of any team in the Big Ten with eight, and are one of only three teams in the conference to have played three ranked teams (LSU, Oklahoma, Old Dominion). Penn State has also played three ranked teams, while Purdue has played four. With Hartford at No. 22 in the RPI, Michigan State and Purdue are the only teams in the Big Ten scheduled to play four non-conference games against teams in the RPI Top 25.

Michigan State's bench has outscored its opponents by 57 points this season (5.7 a game), and is averaging 22.1 points a game from its non-starters. Much of that total is coming from Courtney Davidson, who is third on the team in scoring with 9.6 ppg.