Evanston, Ill. — With her team struggling, Allyssa DeHaan put the Spartans on her back Thursday night.
MSU’s senior center scored a season-high 24 points, recorded 10 rebounds and blocked five shots as the MSU women’s basketball team picked up a gritty, come-from-behind 56-52 win against Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“She was the player of the game for sure,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “She deserved it. She really played well.”
DeHaan scored seven points in the opening four minutes and five points in the final two minutes.
Playing against reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Amy Jaeschke, DeHaan fired early and often, hitting shots from all over while befuddling Northwestern’s defense.
“I just like playing against bigger girls, bigger post players,” DeHaan said. “I’ve played with (Jaeschke) on a team before and have played against her the last three years, so I know what she’s all about. I just enjoy it. I take it as a challenge.”
Not only was DeHaan hitting shots, she stifled Jaeschke’s offense, blocking three of her shots in the first half and altering a shot that ended up hitting the side of the backboard.
“She’s a big part of their offense,” DeHaan said. “I knew if I got in her head early with a big block it would kind of deter her and their offensive flow.”
MSU (14-7 overall, 5-5 Big Ten) roared out to a 10-2 lead early on due to the seven points by DeHaan.
“Her getting a couple blocks early against Jaeschke maybe let her relax a little bit,” Merchant said. “I thought she was very aggressive at the high post against the zone and she knocked down shots from there. Most of her shots came from the perimeter, basically. She’s such a good shooter.”
The Spartans also hit three of their first four 3-pointers while amassing a 20-12 lead, but from there, the Wildcats (12-9, 3-7) would go on a 10-2 run to tie the game at 22.
Down one at the break, the Wildcats came out firing in the second half, taking a 33-28 lead. As MSU went through a second half swoon, Northwestern extended the lead to 40-33.
With their backs against the wall, the Spartans responded. Junior forward Kalisha Keane, who finished with 11 points, started a 9-0 run with a 3-pointer as MSU took a 42-40 lead.
Despite MSU seemingly grabbing the momentum, the Wildcats rallied back this time, going on an 8-2 run to take a 48-44 lead.
Again, Keane came up big, hitting another triple to cut the Northwestern’s lead to one. DeHaan stepped to the line with a chance to give MSU the lead with two free throws and missed them both, but senior center Lauren Aitch was there with the putback to put MSU ahead 49-48.
A Reed free throw tied the game, but DeHaan hit back-to-back jumpers, the second coming with 58 seconds left, to give MSU a 53-49 lead.
Junior guard Cetera Washington blocked Northwestern’s last gasp 3-pointer and after a few passes, the ball fittingly ended the game in DeHaan’s hands.
“It was like a Minnesota thing again — every four minute segment, somebody stepped up big,” Merchant said.
MSU held Jaeschke to 11 points, five below her season average and 19 less than she scored in her last game.
The Spartans, now on a three-game winning streak, return to action next Thursday against Penn State.