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Women's basketball defeats Wayne State 79-47

November 5, 2009

The MSU women’s basketball team talks about its win against Wayne State and also about head coach Suzy Merchant’s pregnancy.

Entering the season, the MSU women’s basketball team’s strong suit was purported to be its depth.

If Thursday’s exhibition win against Wayne State is any indication, that certainly will be true this season. Twelve Spartans played at least 10 minutes in the 79-47 win over the Warriors at Breslin Center.

Much of that had to do with wanting to see players on film going forward, MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said.

“All we wanted to do is get everyone a little bit of playing time,” Merchant said. “There were some kids I wanted to look at a little harder and there were some kids that were playing well and hustling, so I left the kids out there that were doing that.”

At one point early in the game, Merchant went for a line change and substituted all five players at once.

“She said she was going to change up some things,” senior center Lauren Aitch said. “I didn’t know she was going to do five-in and five-out at first, but then it kind of slowed down a little bit. I guess she was just trying to see a whole different look.”

Senior center Allyssa DeHaan led the Spartans with 15 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes. She shot 5-of-7 from the field and hit all five of her free throw attempts. Aitch also was effective inside, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds in 10 minutes.

“We did a great job of posting low,” DeHaan said. “The big thing coach is preaching to us this year is benching the knees and really getting low so we can’t get pushed out, getting great position initially so our guards can make the easy pass and they did a great job of finding us tonight and we did a great job of running and finishing.”

Early on, it was apparent MSU’s size and strength would be too much for Wayne State. That advantage was reflected in both the free throw attempts (24-2 in favor of MSU) and rebounds (49-39 MSU), although many rebounds came to the perimeter due to the Warriors throwing up long shots.

“I thought they out-hustled us to the boards and that was a little disappointing,” Merchant said. “I thought it was better in the second half than it was in the first, but certainly an opportunity that we have to clean up.”

DeHaan said the Spartans have to work on their rebounding.

“I think the rebounding margin was 10 and we want to be an absolutely dominating team on the boards, so that’s something all of us need to work on,” DeHaan said.

The Warriors kept it close early, but MSU turned a 10-9 lead into 26-10 lead midway through the first half. In that run, DeHaan scored six of her 15 points while Aitch scored five of her 11 points. During the stretch, the Spartans went to the charity stripe often, scoring 10-of-16 points from the free-throw line.

The Spartans kept the heat on Wayne State and sophomore forward Courtney Schiffauer hit a 3-pointer as time ran down on the first half to send MSU into halftime with a 45-24 lead.

MSU kept the pace going early in the second half and most of the team’s starters found themselves on the bench for much of the half. Senior guard Mandy Piechowski extended the team’s lead to 30, 65-35, drilling a 3-pointer midway through the half.

But the team never was more excited than when freshman walk-on guard Tracy Nogle came off the bench and swished her only shot attempt, a 3-pointer from the left wing with less than 90 seconds to play, MSU’s final field goal in a 79-47 win.

Come Sunday, the Spartans are going to have to ready for a bigger challenge as Grand Valley State comes to Breslin Center to wrap up MSU’s exhibition slate.

Merchant said Thursday’s game film will help determine playing time for Sunday and the team will attempt to build a rotation.

“We do have depth (but) I’ve never been a platoon-type of coach where you do five-in, five-out, I just don’t know if that’s the answer at this level,” Merchant said.

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