The Michigan women’s basketball team’s underclassmen significantly outscored Michigan State’s non-seniors.
But unlike the Wolverines, the Spartans had a bevy of senior leadership to draw upon.
Just one of the four Michigan upperclassmen to dress scored (junior guard Janelle Cooper with eight points), but Michigan State’s seniors poured in 48 points to lead the Spartans to a 66-48 victory last night in Crisler Arena. It was No. 20 Michigan State’s ninth win in as many tries against the Wolverines.
Spartan Senior Myisha Bannister scored 13 points and pulled in 10 rebounds. And teammate and fellow senior Victoria Lucas-Perry seemed to make plays consistently for the Spartans, scoring in a variety of ways. The Flint native scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds.
“She showed a lot of experience, really showed a lot of experience on the floor,” Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Again, very calm and poised. I thought she was very aggressive. I liked her rebounding. I just liked her game overall. I thought she played very confidently, very poised.”
But the type of savvy Lucas-Perry showed for the Spartans was non-existent in the Michigan offensive.
When sophomore point guard Jessica Minnfield hit freshman guard Kalyn McPherson streaking ahead of the pack just a minute into the contest, it seemed as if Michigan would easily score its first points of the game.
But McPherson missed the open layup, the Wolverines’ first shot. Michigan went on to miss its next six shots before McPherson found herself on a fast break again, with just under 14 minutes remaining in the half and the Spartans leading 8-0.
This time, even though McPherson was under some Spartan pressure, she hit the layup for Michgan’s first basket.
“There’s no question that when you’re playing at home you need to quick-start,” Burnett said. “You’ve got to play, I don’t want to say perfect game, but you’ve got to do a much better job of not giving them what we gave them. And then at the same time, we’ve got to hit shots.”
But the points didn’t come any easier for the Wolverines (8-12 overall, 1-6 Big Ten), who are last in the Big Ten in scoring. They shot just 29 percent from the field and had 21 turnovers, two other categories in which they trail the conference.
But not everything was negative for Michigan, especially the matchup of freshmen in the pivot, where the Wolverines were uncharacteristically successful against a taller player.
Michigan had faced just two players taller than its 6-foot-6 freshman center Krista Phillips before last night – Duke’s Alison Bales and Indiana’s Sarah McKay, both 6-foot-7 seniors. Bales beat Michigan up for 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and six blocks. McKay shot 11-of-14 for 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. In those games, Phillips shot a combined 5-of-15.
One would expect Michigan State’s 6-foot-9 freshman center Allyssa DeHaan would enjoy similar success.
Entering the game last night, DeHaan led the Big Ten in blocks per game (4.53). She led Big Ten freshmen in scoring (12.8) and rebounding (8.9) and is second among conference freshmen in field-goal and free-throw percentage (.528 and .746, respectively).
But Michigan kept DeHaan under wraps most of the game. The Grandville native finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but most of that production came in garbage time. She shot just 1-of-7 for four points with just four rebounds until the game’s final two minutes.
Meanwhile, Phillips was a respectable 4-for-5 for nine points and six rebounds despite playing just 17 minutes with foul trouble.
Freshman forward LeQuisha Whitfield also saw significant playing time in the post, adding 12 points and nine rebounds for the Wolverines.
Even though Michigan won the battle of youngsters inside, the Spartan seniors proved to be just too much for the Wolverines to handle.