DenisePopiolek

Written by Courtney Wills

After a poor showing at Williams Arena in January, the Lady Spartans fought back strong to crush the no. 1 team in the Big Ten, the Minnesota Gophers, 84-61, at the Breslin Center.

The Spartans came out roaring in the first half, completing eight out of the team’s first 10 three-pointers. MSU set the tone early by taking a substantial lead over the surprised Gophers.

Michigan State head coach Joanne P. McCallie was very impressed with the way her team stepped up. MSU played with intense fire on defense, grabbing many rebounds to help set up the fast breaks down the court.

“We have a lot of talented kids that can do great things and I just thought there was a lot of ball movement and attacking. The whole game was attack. Our team is explosive and they have been explosive in a lot of different ways, but this time it was a dictating explosive,” said McCallie.

One of those talented kids was freshman forward Aisha Jefferson, who scored a career-high of 19 points, nabbed nine rebounds, and snatched five steals to give MSU the edge over the Gophers.

“She’s extraordinary,” said McCallie.

“She listens. You tell Aisha to rebound and she goes and rebounds. She has the biggest heart you ever saw. And she cares more than anybody about being a Spartan.”

However, Jefferson was not the only Spartan to make some noise on the court. Both junior guard Rene Haynes and junior guard Victoria Lucas-Perry combined for a total of 32 points to help MSU clinch their fourth straight win.

MSU shot the lights out from the floor compared to their last meeting against Minnesota. The Spartans were nearly perfect, hitting 61 percent from the field and 80 percent from three-point range.

“We just had to keep attacking,” Jefferson said.

“We were very upset about our loss at Minnesota and really had something to prove tonight.”

The Minnesota Gophers just did not seem a get into a steady rhythm to defeat the Spartans, according to Minnesota head coach Pam Borton.

“Five of our first six possessions were turnovers,” said Borton.

“We dug ourselves a hole very, very quickly. It was 10-0 before you knew it. But anytime you turn it over 24 times and give up 18 offensive rebounds, it’s going to be tough to win on another team’s floor.”

Michigan State also received solid performances from their number two and three scorers, senior guard Lindsey Bowen and senior forward Liz Shimek, who finished with nine and seven points.

The Lady Spartans will face the Badgers of Wisconsin next on Sunday, February 12 at the Breslin Center.

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