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Women's basketball drops Wildcats, moves on to postseason

March 2, 2003

After the first 16 minutes, it seemed the MSU women's basketball team would be in another close game, in the final contest of the regular season.

But the Spartans (17-10 overall, 10-6 Big Ten) clamped down on defense, and routed Northwestern 75-43 in front of 8,614 fans at Breslin Center on Sunday.

The Spartans' 10 Big Ten wins are the most in head coach Joanne P. McCallie's three-year tenure and equal the number of conference wins in the first two years combined.

MSU avenged a 52-46 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 2 at Northwestern and have won two straight.

"It gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament," sophomore guard Kristin Haynie said.

The Wildcats (8-19, 3-13) led 30-29 with 3:21 remaining in the first half. But the Spartans closed the half on a 9-2 run to take a 38-32 lead into the locker room.

In possibly her last game in Breslin Center, senior forward Syreeta

Bromfield notched game highs of 20 points and six steals, and scored 11 of her team's final 13 points in the first half.

"Syreeta was extremely important to us defensively," McCallie said. "She's intimidating on the front of our half-court press."

MSU started the second half with a 13-0 spurt to build a 19-point lead,

51-32, with 15:28 remaining. The Spartans led by as many as 33 points late in the game.

The Spartans' 13 points in the opening 4:32 of the second were more than Northwestern scored the entire half. The Wildcats managed only 11, a Breslin Center record for fewest points in a half.

In the first half, the Wildcats were able to get open looks at 3-pointers and they connected on 5-of-12 attempts, which kept them in the game.

Northwestern guard Samantha McComb proved to be the most opportunistic Wildcat. She connected on 3-of-6 3-point attempts, and had racked up 12 points by halftime.

But McComb and her teammates didn't get many open looks after intermission and struggled to keep control of the ball.

"In the first half, we just let them get way too many 3-point shots,"

freshman guard Lindsay Bowen said. "We had a great second half of defense."

In the second half, Northwestern shot just 5-of-21 from the field and

turned the ball over 23 times for the game, which led to 29 points off Wildcat miscues.

In addition to Bromfield, three other Spartans scored in double figures.

Haynie scored 12 points and dished out a game-high 10 assists for her first double-double of the season. This was the 19th game she led the team in assists.

Bowen added 17 points in 39 minutes of play.

MSU now has to change its focus to postseason play. The Spartans are the No. 5 seed and will get a bye in the first round of the Big Ten

Tournament, which runs Thursday through Monday in Indianapolis.

MSU will take on fourth-seeded Ohio State (19-8, 10-6) at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The teams have met twice this season, with the home team winning each game.

This marks the third consecutive year MSU will play the Buckeyes in its first game of the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans lost the prior matchups.

Notebook: The 8,614 fans is the second-largest crowd in MSU history.

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