Spartan Ladies Prepare for Two-Game Road Swing, Take on Indiana Thursday Night

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After yet another comeback victory at home, this time a 56-54 win over Purdue, the Spartans will look to carry their momentum on the road with games at Indiana Thursday and Penn State Sunday.

Indiana (14-10) got the best of the Spartans in the first meeting with a 70-56 win at the Breslin Center Jan. 20. The win snapped IU's eight-game losing streak to Michigan State. MSU has won four in a row at Assembly Hall, including a 64-56 overtime victory last season.

The Hoosiers and Spartans are both fighting for position in the Big Ten standings down the final stretch of the season. Indiana is fifth in the conference at 7-5, while MSU is tied with Illinois for seventh at 6-7.

For the third time during the Big Ten season, the Spartans rallied at home in picking up a crucial two-point victory over Purdue Monday night. MSU trailed by as many as 13 in the first half and was down nine (47-38) with 10 minutes to play, but the defense stepped up and didn't allow a field goal in the final 7:41 while limiting Purdue to five points.

On the other end of the court, the Spartans hit clutch shots, led by Courtney Davidson and Lauren Aitch, to close the game on an 18-7 run. Aitch scored six of her eight points in the final six minutes, including a layup that tied the game at 54 with 45 seconds remaining. Davidson cut Purdue's lead to one point at 53-52 after hitting a 3-pointer with 1:26 on the clock, and hit two free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining to put MSU ahead for good, 56-54. She finished the game with 17 points and three 3-pointers, while tying her career high with seven assists.

The Spartans rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Iowa on Jan. 10 and came back from eight down with 6:30 to go in the win over Michigan Jan. 31.

• Thursday's matchup will be the 56th meeting between Michigan State and Indiana.
• MSU leads the all-time series, 34-21, and has won eight of the past nine meetings.
• The Spartans lead the series in Bloomington, 14-11, and have won four straight at Assembly Hall.
• Indiana defeated MSU in East Lansing earlier this season, 70-56, marking IU's first win at the Breslin Center since 2001.

Michigan State University and the Breslin Center have been selected as one of eight additional first- and second-round sites for the 2009 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee announced Tuesday, Feb. 12.

The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee selected the sites, and the Administrative Committee of the NCAA Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet approved them. The committee also selected nine sites to be added for the 2010 NCAA Championship.

The sites were added after the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee announced in the summer of 2007 that the championship would be expanding to 16 pre-determined first- and second-round sites, beginning in 2009.

Four teams will play first-round games at the Breslin Center either Saturday, March 21 or Sunday, March 22, 2009. The second-round game will be on Monday, March 23 or Tuesday, March 24. In all, the Breslin Center will host three games.

Last year, Michigan State hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Championship for the first time in school history at the Breslin Center. East Lansing led all eight first- and second-round sites with a total 21,340 fans passing through the turnstiles during the three sessions. The 2007 event featured eight teams, including host Michigan State and NCAA finalist Rutgers.

"First and foremost, you have to pay tribute and really appreciate the job Michigan State did in hosting the tournament last year," said MSU head coach Suzy Merchant. "A lot of our ability to host in 2009 is based on an extremely well-run tournament last year from our administration, the event staff and all of the volunteers in the community. The NCAA wouldn't come back if it wasn't top notch and first class. For me, it's a lot of appreciation for hard work done by a lot of people. Obviously, it's very exciting news. I don't think there's anything more exciting then knowing you have the opportunity to host. I think it's going to provide some inspiration for our kids to work that much harder to know we'll have a chance to play on our home floor."

"This is a compliment to our women's basketball program and our entire community," said MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis. "We look forward to hosting the teams and fans that will visit Mid-Michigan and our campus for this NCAA basketball showcase. Our staff and community will extend the highest level of hospitality to those visiting our area. I am looking forward to the great competition of the NCAA Women's Championship to be played right here at the Breslin Center."

"We are extremely pleased to have been selected to serve as a host for the 2009 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds in East Lansing," said MSU Senior Associate Athletics Director Shelley Appelbaum. "We appreciate the opportunity and we are grateful to everyone who helped make the 2007 event a success and we look forward to providing our Spartans with an opportunity to play in the 2009 event at the Breslin Students Events Center. Michigan State University and Spartan Athletics are proud of Coach Merchant, her staff and team and our loyal fan base; we look forward to this exciting event during March Madness when we can support and celebrate our student-athletes in their quest for excellence."


Big Ten Standings

• With five regular-season games remaining, the Spartans are tied for seventh in the Big Ten standings with Illinois with a 6-7 conference mark. MSU beat Illinois, 65-62, on Jan. 24 in Champaign.

• The top five teams in the standings will receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, scheduled March 6-9 in Indianapolis at Conseco Fieldhouse.

• The Spartans have two home games (Northwestern, Illinois) and three road games (Indiana, Penn State, Purdue) left on the schedule.

• Michigan State has beaten the top three teams in the Big Ten standings, all at home (Iowa, Ohio State and Purdue).

Indiana got the best of the Spartans in the first meeting with a 70-56 win at the Breslin Center Jan. 20. The win snapped IU's eight-game losing streak to Michigan State.

MSU has won four in a row at Assembly Hall, including a 64-56 overtime victory last season.

Indiana is fifth in the conference at 7-5 after falling at Illinois last Sunday, 73-62. The Hoosiers have lost three of their last five, but have won four straight at home.

The Hoosiers have four players average in double figures. They are led by sophomore guard Jamie Braun, who is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring with 15.2 points a game. Whitney Thomas is second on the team with 12.4 ppg and third in the conference in rebounding with 9.4 a game. In Big Ten games, she leads the league with 10.0 rebounds a game.

G-Nikki Smith (Sr., 5-9, 7.3 ppg)
G-Jamie Braun (So., 5-8, 15.2 ppg)
F-Whitney Thomas (Jr., 6-0, 12.4 ppg)
F-Kim Roberson (Jr., 5-10, 10.8 ppg)
C-Amber Jackson (Jr., 6-2, 12.2 ppg)

Michigan State fell to Indiana, 70-56, before a crowd of 10,024 Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Breslin Center. Allyssa DeHaan collected her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Lauren Aitch also scored 15 points for the Spartans.

Amber Jackson led Indiana with 21 points, while Jamie Braun added 18. The Hoosiers shot 21 more free throws than the Spartans, going 20-for-31 from the charity stripe. MSU struggled shooting, going 4-for-21 from 3-point range and 4-for-10 from the foul line.

With the score 26-23 in favor of IU at halftime, the Hoosiers came out of the break on a 12-0 run during the first four minutes of the second half to take a 38-23 advantage. The Spartans bounced back with a 7-0 run on a 3-pointer from Mandy Piechowski and two baskets by Kalisha Keane, trimming the lead to 38-30 with 12:47 remaining. Indiana went back up by 12 points, but MSU cut the margin to seven on an Aitch layup that made it 48-41 with eight minutes left.

The Spartans would not get any closer, however, as Indiana went on an 11-5 run over the next three minutes to go up, 59-46.

• Michigan State defeated Purdue, 56-54, Monday night before a crowd of 6,218 at the Breslin Center.

• The game was part of WBCA's "Think Pink" week...the "Think Pink" initiative is a global, unified effort for the WBCA's nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond...MSU honored breast cancer survivors at halftime...the Spartans wore pink shooting shirts, shoelaces and headbands for "Think Pink" night.

• Allyssa DeHaan recorded six blocks on the night, giving her 105 for the season...she is the first player in Big Ten history to reach 100 blocks in two different seasons, and the sixth to reach the 100-block plateau in a single season.

• DeHaan also had 15 points, marking the 19th time this season she has scored in double-figures.

• Michigan State went on an 18-2 run lasting close to nine minutes (11:26 to 2:31 mark) in the first half, erasing a 13-point Purdue lead...the double-digit comeback gives the Spartans their second in the last two regular season games against Purdue...MSU came back from 17 down to win at Purdue on Feb. 11, 2007.

• The win marks the second-largest comeback of the season, behind only the 16-point comeback against Iowa (1/10).

• The Spartans scored 34 of their 56 points in the paint...Purdue finished with 11 points in the paint.

• Courtney Davidson scored 12 of her team-leading 17 points in the second half, and tied her career high with seven assists...she also tied a career high with 35 minutes...she hit two free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining to give the Spartans the 56-54 lead...Davidson is 12-for-14 (86 percent) during the season shooting free throws in the final two minutes of games.

• Freshmen Taja Wilson and Cetera Washington both contributed off the bench for the Spartans. Wilson played a season-high 22 minutes and collected a season-best five rebounds while adding two points, a steal and a block. Washington scored four points on back-to-back baskets in the second half and also had two steals and a block.

• Michigan State limited Purdue to 11 free-throw attempts, which tied a season low for the Boilermakers.

• The Spartans forced 23 Boilermaker turnovers.

• MSU's bench, led by Davidson, outscored Purdue, 34-11...MSU's bench has outscored its opponents by 185 points this season (7.4 points a game).

• Michigan State has beaten the top three teams in the Big Ten standings, all at home (Iowa, Ohio State and Purdue).

• MSU improved to 10-0 when recording more assists than its opponent (MSU 13 assists; Purdue 11 assists).