Off to the Sweet 16

DenisePopiolek

Once again the Lady Spartans prevailed as they held on in the last few seconds to beat the fifth-seeded Wildcats of Kentucky, 67-63.

The Lady Wildcats challenged the Spartans from every angle, especially when they went on a 12-2 run midway through the second half.

Sophomore forward Eleia Roddy, who finished with 10 points and six rebounds, hit a key lay-up that put Kentucky in front, 60-57.

However, the Lady Spartans did not falter. With five minutes and eight seconds left in the game, junior guard Victoria Lucas-Perry hit an amazing three pointer that allowed Michigan State to tie the game at 60-60.

From that moment on, the Lady Spartans were unstoppable as they played with an intense defensive edge that allowed both Lucas-Perry and senior forward Liz Shimek to hit four key free throws within the last 16 seconds of the game.

Shimek made her two free throws with less than eight seconds in the game, giving MSU a 66-60 lead.

Unfortunately, the comfortable six-point lead was not enough to give the Michigan State the victory to the second round of the tournament.

Kentucky’s freshman guard Carly Ormerod went on to hit a solid three-pointer to cut the Spartans lead to 66-63. In spite of this, the Lady Spartans were able to capture the victory after Lucas-Perry completed only one of her two foul shots remaining to beat the Lady Wildcats, 67-63.

Compared to the Wildcats, who shot 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, the Spartans were only able to make 14 of their 19 shots from the line.

Not only did Lucas-Perry and Shimek finish with great games, but freshman Aisha Jefferson also had a stellar performance. While Lucas-Perry and Shimek combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds, Jefferson racked up 16 points and seven rebounds for the night.

Kentucky’s Roddy, Ormerod and junior guard Jenny Pfeiffer combined for a total of 37 points and 15 rebounds for the night as well.

Monday’s victory marked Michigan State’s second-straight year in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Michigan State will next face the winner of the Duke-USC semifinal game in the Bridgeport Regional on Sunday, March 26.

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