Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Women's basketball tops Indiana, remains undefeated in Big Ten

January 12, 2012
Red shirt senior Lykendra Johnson goes up for a lay up against forward Danilsa Andujar Thursday night at Breslin Center. The spartans pulled away in the second half coming up with a 67-47 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. Aaron Snyder/The State News.
Red shirt senior Lykendra Johnson goes up for a lay up against forward Danilsa Andujar Thursday night at Breslin Center. The spartans pulled away in the second half coming up with a 67-47 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers. Aaron Snyder/The State News. —
Photo by Aaron Snyder | and Aaron Snyder The State News

As her 3-pointer sailed through the net, beating the clock and sending the Spartans to the locker room at halftime with a six-point lead, Porsché Poole let out a grin.

The senior guard is starting to figure it out.

The Spartans (12-5 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) knocked off Indiana (5-13, 0-5) on Thursday, 67-47, behind a team-high 16 points from Poole along with 13 points and seven rebounds from senior forward Lykendra Johnson.

After beginning the season in the starting lineup and leading the team in scoring, head coach Suzy Merchant Poole to the bench in favor of junior guard Jasmine Thomas in an effort to find better defense.

The transition was difficult for Poole, who saw her scoring average drop to 5.6 points per game in the following six games and struggled to get a sense of when to look for her shot.

But as the team entered the conference season, Merchant said she noticed a change in Poole, and when senior guard Taylor Alton picked up her second foul less than six minutes into the game, it was Poole who provided a spark.

“I give her a lot of credit, (going to the bench) is not an easy thing,” Merchant said. “I thought she played pretty darn good defense. She took that big charge for us; she had some steals; she had five defensive rebounds, so the fact that she put it together at both ends was a step up.”

Poole said Merchant’s message of focusing on defense first has started to resonate, and it’s the reason she’s back to making plays.

“She’s a defensive coach, and I know that in order to be on the floor, that’s the main thing I’ve got to do — I’ve got to stand out on the defensive end first,” Poole said. “She told me I did good (defensively), and it felt great.”

Poole’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer was one of 10 assists for freshman point guard Kiana Johnson, who also had a nifty behind-the-back pass on the fast break that drew the crowd’s loudest cheers.

After playing “soft” and “sloppily” in the first half, Merchant said it was the fancy pass from Johnson that helped lift the team’s energy.

“When you’re struggling, it’s nice to have a little bit of that flair and that kind of fun out there a little bit,” she said. “That’s the one thing about Kiana — she’s a playmaker. I mean 10 assists to one turnover is pretty good for a freshman.”

Johnson laughed when asked about the pass and said getting her teammates open shots with creative passing can be as fun for her as scoring.

“I’ve never had the mentality of a freshman, I felt like I had to play above that,” she said. “I never wanted to use that as an excuse, so I really never had the nervousness the anxiety that most freshman have.”

Even though the final score was lopsided, Merchant said she didn’t think her team “played a Michigan State 40 minute basketball game,” but is still happy to have the win.

“I thought it was a struggle a little bit,” she said. “It was probably painful to watch at times with some of our traveling and turnovers. It was an ugly win as they say, but I’ll take it.”

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