Monday, June 17, 2024

MSU closing in on Big Ten lead after 52-46 victory

Freshman forward Courtney Schiffauer, junior forward Aisha Jefferson and freshman guard Porsché Poole celebrate during the second half of Sunday’s 52-46 victory over Ohio State.

The MSU women’s basketball team’s 52-46 win over No. 14 Ohio State was the battle it was built up to be.

A match between the top two teams in the Big Ten, the Spartans led the entire game, but never by more than six on their way to a win that moves them within a half-game of first place in the Big Ten.

“We certainly have a lot more games left,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I think one thing they showed me tonight, especially under adversity, is that they had a whole lot of desire and will to play at a higher level and demand that from each other.”

MSU started off the game hot, jumping out to an 8-3 lead by driving in the lane and getting open layups against a normally stout Ohio State defense.

Buckeyes forward Jantel Lavender carried her team back, scoring nine of Ohio State’s first 11 points and bringing the Buckeyes to within one point, 12-11.

MSU then shifted its focus to feeding the post. Redshirt freshman forward Lykendra Johnson racked up 10 of her 14 points and junior center Allyssa DeHaan scored eight of her team-high 16 in the first half.

“(DeHaan) was really ready to play and we sure needed her today,” Merchant said. “We have to have people showing up and making a difference at both ends of the floor and I thought we had that. We have to give Al a lot of credit. She is playing with some pain and you could hardly notice it out there today compared to the last two games.”

Johnson finished the half with a wide open layup as the Spartans beat Ohio State’s full-court press and headed into the locker room up 29-25.

The Spartans came out of the break and ignited the 10,403 fans in attendance as DeHaan stepped out and hit a three to again put the home team up by five, 32-27.

Ohio State kept fighting and tied the score up when Buckeyes guard Ashlee Trebilcock found her way into the paint and scored a layup to even the game at 32.

DeHaan would hit another big three with 12 minutes to play to again stretch the lead to five.

“I love shooting threes,” DeHaan said. “Our guards did such a great job at penetrating their defense … and I just had the confidence to knock them down.”

A putback layup by sophomore forward Kalisha Keane just 30 seconds later sealed the win for the Spartans, as they would ice the game on free throws and win 52-46.

“I think we basically just got outplayed,” said Lavender, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “Michigan State came out and played extremely hard, and we did not match their intensity out there.”

The Spartans move on to play Thursday at Indiana (15-7, 8-5).

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