Written By Courtney Wills
No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Duke
Michigan Stateâ€™s journey to reach their second Elite Eight appearance unfortunately came to an end late Sunday night as the Lady Spartans lost to the No. 1 ranked Blue Devils of Duke University, 86-61.
Neither one of MSUâ€™s top lead scorers, Liz Shimek or Lindsay Bowen, could find their magic wands to beat the ferocious and tenacious Blue Devils.Â Both Shimek and Bowen finished with a combined 15 points and 11 rebounds for the game.
â€œWe didnâ€™t want to go out this way,â€ said Bowen. â€œIt hurts a lot right now.â€
From the moment the game began, Duke became unstoppable as they flew down the court hitting countless lay-ups and inside jumpers.Â Duke shot more than 50 percent from the field each half while the Spartans only shot an average of 37 percent between the two halves.
The Blue Devils did everything from limiting Michigan Stateâ€™s inside game to out-scoring the Lady Spartans both in turnovers and bench points to capture the victory.
Due to an awesome performance by the Duke bench, the Blue Devils were able to outscore the Spartans 32 to 7 in overall bench points throughout both halves.Â This allowed six players to finish in double figures within the game.
â€œI think itâ€™s quality depth,â€ said Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors. â€œA lot of teams have a lot of players, but our bench is productive, probably as productive as any team in the country.â€
Goestenkors is in her 14th season at Duke and within these years, she has led Duke to three Final Fours, six Elite Eight appearances, nine Sweet 16â€™s, and 12 NCAA Tournaments.Â Â Congratulations to Coach Goestenkors.
Not only did Dukeâ€™s bench perform well, but three key players also had break-out performances.Â Senior guard-forward Monique Currie, junior center Alison Bales, and freshman guard Abby Waner all finished the game with a combined 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.Â Bales, a very talented shot blocker, also received top honors as she became the fourth highest player to make over 30 blocks within a single season.
â€œOne of our biggest strengths is we like to run and press,â€ Waner said.Â â€œThat comes from our depth. That wears people out.Â I think thatâ€™s really evident toward the end of the game when we are still running the floor.â€
However, all was not completely lost for the Lady Spartans as both freshman Aisha Jefferson and junior Victoria Lucas-Perry tried to lift the dwindling Spartans spirits.Â Jefferson dominated the boards in the first half with 15 points and six rebounds whereas Lucas-Perry came out firing in the second half with 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Even though Shimek and Bowen may not have performed as well as they would have liked to, their legacy and impact on the MSU womenâ€™s basketball will forever remain untainted.Â No other team in Michigan Stateâ€™s history has had two top lead scorers dominate as well as these two women have.Â The way in which Shimek and Bowen have embraced the MSU community and its fans has rejuvenated the spirits of what it means to go out as a true champion.
â€œThey totally built and revitalized womenâ€™s basketball at Michigan State,â€ said MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie.Â â€œIf itâ€™s possible for two people to sort of â€˜shake the world,â€™ these two women have definitely done that in the great state of Michigan.
Liz Shimek and Lindsay Bowen we thank you for making these past four years a privilege to watch.Â We are proud of everything you have brought to this program and everything you will leave with this program.Â Spartannation wishes only the best for you in the future.Â Go Green! Go White!