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Buckeyes oust Spartans

March 8, 2003
Sophomore guard Kristin Haynie takes the ball up the court as Ohio State guard Caity Matter pursues during the second half Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Haynie played the entire game, scoring 10 points for MSU. The Spartans lost, 71-55, eliminating them from the Big Ten Tournament.

Indianapolis - The third time wasn't the charm for Spartan head coach Joanne P. McCallie.

It was a nightmare.

Ohio State drilled MSU 71-55 Friday at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. It was the Spartans' worst loss of the season and marked the third consecutive year the Buckeyes eliminated MSU from the conference tournament.

"We haven't had a game like this all year," the third-year head coach said. "When we watch this film it's going to be nauseating, but it will be a good learning tool for our young players."

MSU (17-11) had no answers for Ohio State (20-8) on offense or defense.

The Spartans shot 35.8 percent from the field for the game en route to their second-lowest scoring output of the season, while the Buckeyes shot 60 percent - a single-game Big Ten Tournament record.

Offensively, MSU wasn't able to establish a rhythm. Ohio State's frontcourt defenders were more physical than their counterparts and relentless in denying the Spartan low-post players the ball.

"They were physical," junior foward Julie Pagel said. "We didn't step up to the challenge."

The Buckeyes' starting frontcourt outscored MSU's 33-20.

Ohio State center LaToya Turner led the way with an incredible all-around performance. The 6-foot-3 junior scored 13 points and added six rebounds, five blocks and career highs in steals and assists with five apiece.

But by no means did she carry the load by herself. Every Buckeye starter scored in double figures, including guard Caity Matter who notched game highs of 21 points and seven rebounds.

"We found holes in their zone," she said. "We got open looks and our shots fell. We were patient and got the shots we were looking for."

MSU, however, didn't get many open looks.

Senior forward Syreeta Bromfield, the Spartans' leading scorer, was held to a season-low five points on 2-of-10 shooting. Sophomore point guard Kristin Haynie also struggled offensively. She managed 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting and committed seven turnovers.

Freshman guard Lindsay Bowen, who was 4-of-8 from the field, scored a team-high 15 points in 39 minutes.

"They came out in our face," she said. "It was hard to get open."

In the opening moments, it appeared MSU would run away with the game. But its small lead quickly vanished.

After MSU scored the first six points of the game, the Buckeyes used a 15-2 spurt to take a 15-8 lead with 10:37 remaining in the half. Then, after a Bromfield 3-pointer seemed to stop the bleeding, Ohio State went on a 16-4 run to take a 31-15 advantage with 1:02 remaining.

MSU scored the last five points of the first half as Haynie ended the Buckeye run with a 3-pointer and Bromfield hit a baseline leaner to cut the lead to 31-20. The 20-point half was the lowest of the season for the Spartans.

The second half began with a rapid scoring exchange not often seen in Big Ten basketball as the teams combined for 25 points in a 3:18 span.

In that time, Bowen netted MSU's first nine points with three triples and MSU scored on its first five possessions. But the Spartans only cut one point off their deficit (43-33) because the Buckeyes hit their first five shots, including two 3-pointers.

Freshman forward Liz Shimek cut the lead to 45-36 on a layup with 12:43 left in regulation, however, it took 5:19 for the Spartans to find the bottom of the net again.

Between those buckets, Ohio State rattled off 16 points, taking a 61-36 lead - the largest of the game - to seal the victory.

Now, MSU has to wait until March 16 to find out its postseason fate.

The Spartans sport a 17-11 overall record and finished tied for fourth-place in the Big Ten regular-season standings. If they are not selected to the Big Dance, then they are almost assured an invite to the Women's National Invitation Tournament.

"I think they are definitely an NCAA Tournament team," Ohio State head coach Jim Foster said. "Anytime you win 10 games in this conference you're really making a statement."

Notebook: It was a record-setting day for Bowen on Friday. She connected on three 3-pointers, which gives her 76 on the season - a MSU single-season record. She also has scored 378 points debut season, which is a MSU single-season record for a freshman.

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