Monday, September 20, 2021

MSU falls in conference vs. Iowa

January 27, 2011

It was déjà vu for the No. 10 MSU women’s basketball team on Thursday night at Carver Hawkeyes Arena.

The Spartans again found themselves with a chance to beat No. 18 Iowa, but again it would take last second heroics.

Last time the teams met, senior forward Kalisha Keane drilled a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left on the clock that sealed a 63-60 victory.

This time around, Iowa held a slim two-point lead, but the Spartans had possession and were inbounding with 5.9 seconds left. Images of Keane’s shot likely put terror in the eyes of each Iowa fan, player and coach.

As anticipated, Keane received a pass from senior guard Brittney Thomas and pulled up for a shot. However, there was no magic this time. Keane throws an air ball, and junior forward Lykendra Johnson missed two follow-up opportunities. The final buzzer echoed throughout the arena, and the Hawkeyes (16-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) defeated the Spartans (18-3, 6-2) by a final score of 66-64.

“I liked our fight — I really did,” MSU head coach Suzy Merchant said. “I thought we played extremely hard given the circumstances. Nothing was going our way, and we found a way to be there until the very last little bit. I’ll take (Keane) shooting it and two shots by (Johnson) to win it any day or bring us to overtime on the road.”

The Spartans fought, but Iowa seemed to control most of the second half. It was Thomas who found a way to bring her team to that last second situation.

After a slow first half, Thomas came out and started exchanging shots with the Hawkeyes. She scored 15 of her 17 points in the final period.

“I challenged (Thomas) at half time,” Merchant said. “I told her she can’t play all these minutes and never look for her shot. I thought she really played extremely well.”

Keane also recorded a double-double for the Spartans with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

After playing only seven minutes in the first half and getting into foul trouble, Johnson was able to bounce back and rip down 13 of her 15 rebounds in the second. She also added eight points.

“I coached a long time, and that first half was a little frustrating, no question, in terms of the way it was being officiated,” Merchant said. “We couldn’t get into flow, getting fouls called (on us) pretty easily. It put Lykendra on the bench again.”

The Spartans now find themselves in a four-way tie for first place with Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.

“(The next few days) are about regrouping, watching film and getting enough rest so we can get better,” Merchant said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge on the road against Wisconsin. There’s a lot of the season left. I’m proud of our group, and I thought we played as well as we have all year.”

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