The No. 20/19 Michigan State women's basketball team (6-1) takes a four-game winning streak into Norfolk, Va., this Sunday to take on traditional power Old Dominion. The Monarchs are 5-2 overall this season, with their only losses coming at the hands of No. 2 Connecticut and No. 6 Stanford. On Thursday, ODU crushed Penn State in Norfolk, 77-49. Old Dominion, who also beat Purdue in the Paradise Jam last week, is receiving votes in both polls.The Spartans are fresh off a 68-51 victory over Clemson on Thursday in the inaugural Big Ten/ACC Women's Challenge. It marked MSU's first home game since Nov. 11, but the Spartans are right back on the road for games at Old Dominion and Indiana State (Dec. 8) before hosting No. 9 Oklahoma on Dec. 16. MSU is in the midst of playing eight of 10 games away from the friendly confines of the Breslin Center.
Sophomore 6-9 center Allyssa DeHaan had her best game of the young season against Clemson with 26 points and 13 rebounds on 11-for-19 shooting from the field. DeHaan leads the team and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring with 17.2 ppg. She is also fifth in the league in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and field-goal percentage (58.3 percent) and first in blocks (36, 5.1 pg).
Joining DeHaan in the post, sophomore center Lauren Aitch also played a stellar game in the win over Clemson, recording career highs with 16 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting. Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas played a solid all-around game, tallying season bests in points (nine) and rebounds (nine) while tying a season best with six assists.
With the win over Clemson, first-year head coach Suzy Merchant became the first coach in Spartan history to begin her tenure with a 6-1 record. Merchant is 207-121 overall in her 13th year as a head coach.
OLD DOMINION ONE OF THE TOP WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PROGRAMS IN THE COUNTRY
Old Dominion is one of the winningest women's college basketball programs in the nation. The Monarchs have won 16 consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles, have appeared in three Final Fours (1983, 1985, 1997) and won the 1985 National Championship. The 16 straight conference titles are an NCAA record. The Lady Monarchs also won the 1978-79 and 1979-80 AIAW national titles. Last season, Old Dominion earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but fell to 10th-seeded Florida State in the first round.
The Monarchs are led by 21st-year head coach Wendy Larry. Entering the 2007-08 season, Larry ranked 17th in NCAA women's basketball history with 521 career victories.
This season, Old Dominion is looking strong in its bid for a 17th straight CAA title. The Monarchs are averaging 70.1 points a game, led by senior guard T.J. Jordan, who is pouring in 15.9 ppg. ODU is forcing more than 23 turnovers a game, and caused 30 turnovers in its 77-49 win over Penn State on Thursday. Old Dominion also pounces on the offensive glass, hauling in more than 18.3 a game.