- Adam Glanzman/Daily
By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 8, 2013
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The Michigan women’s basketball team may have ended its 12-game losing streak to Michigan State earlier in the season at Crisler Center, but a new winning streak for the Spartans started Friday night as the Wolverines fell 62-46 to Michigan State in this transported in-state rivalry showdown.
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Making its fourth consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan (9-7 Big Ten, 21-10 overall) hoped to advance to its first semifinals since 2001, but the play of Spartan guard Klarissa Bell and 14-0 second half scoring run was too much for the it to overcome in this wire-to-wire victory by Michigan State.
“I think they just attacked us defensively,” said senior forward Rachel Sheffer. “We really couldn't come together defensively, and we couldn't carry over with defensive stops to our offense and nothing really was going for us tonight.”
Though the student cheering sections were absent – the Merchant Maniacs and Maize Rage were not present – older alumni for each school were. Positioned behind each teams’ bench, the fans tried to emulate as raucous of a crowd that was present for their prior two matchups, despite the attendance being far less than before.
The volume favored the Spartans (10-6, 23-7) to start, as Bell sprinted down court on a fast break to lay in a basket to begin the scoring. She would score on the their next possession as well, and finish with 12 points in the first half and 20 in the game to lead the team.
“I thought Bell's offense was unbelievable tonight,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “And her defense was great, too. But she came out of the gates and hurt us offensively. I think she might have had their first 10 points. So we expected her to do a great job defensively. She did a really good job defensively against Kate the last couple of times, but I thought she really stepped up her game on the offense tonight as well. She's a good player.”
Unlike Thursday night’s matchup for the Wolverines, their offensive production was lackluster against the conference’s best defensive squad to begin the game, falling down by as much as 12 in the first half.
Michigan State doubled up Michigan, 24-12, following a jumper by senior guard Jasmine Thomas after an over the back violation on the Spartans was reversed and they retained possession.
While the Wolverines remained visibly upset by the call, they countered with a 3-pointer by Sheffer to trim the lead back to nine. Sheffer would finish with 10 points.
She added another basket less than two minutes later to cut the lead to eight. It appeared Michigan might have shifted the momentum back.
And it seemingly did, as Michigan continued to trim away, going on a 13-6 run, ending on a senior guard Jenny Ryan 3-pointer with 37 seconds left to make the halftime score 30-25, in favor of the Spartans. By shooting 40.7 percent from the field in the half, it remained close.
Though the Wolverines started off poorly, they remained within striking distance thanks to Sheffer’s seven first-half points and senior forwards Kate Thompson and Nya Jordan’s four points each, as well as sophomore guard Nicole Elmblad’s four points.
Similar to its game the night before, Thompson was held without a 3-pointer in the first half, but unlike against Indiana, she did not open the second half with one, as Michigan turned the ball over on a five-second violation on its first possession and a shot clock violation on its second possession.
In return, Michigan State scored consecutive baskets to push their lead to the cusp of double digits at nine points.
But before they could push it into that territory again, the Wolverines went on an 8-2 scoring burst to come within striking distance at 36-33 and make it seem this game was far from over.
But again, Michigan could not close the gap any closer, as sophomore guard Kiana Johnson scored seven straight points for the Spartans as they went on a emotion draining 14-0 run to bring the Spartans’ lead to a then-game-high 17 points.
Unlike in the middle game between these two, there would be no second-half run by the Wolverines to pull out the victory as they went nearly ten minutes without a field goal from the field, while scoring just four points on free throws.