It had been more than six years since the Michigan women’s basketball team beat Michigan State on the hardwood.

But with the Wolverines no longer occupying the Big Ten cellar – and they did it, in front of a record 5,596 fans at Crisler Arena yesterday afternoon.

The Spartans fell victim to Michigan’s hot shooting from beyond the arc in the Wolverines’ 64-55 victory, a game senior Janelle Cooper called the biggest win of her career.

Michigan State (2-4 Big Ten, 10-8 overall) was on a six-minute field goal drought toward the end of the second half, but junior Carly Benson kept rolling for Michigan. Benson had her best game of the season, shooting 8-for-18 from the field on her way to a career-high 23 points.

“Carly has started to be consistently a really great player for us,” sophomore Krista Phillips said. “I wouldn’t want to have to play against her.”

Michigan shot —12-for-29 from downtown, including three each from Benson, junior Jessica Minnfield and senior Krista Clement.

“They just shot the lights out,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “They made shots, and we didn’t.”

With 12 minutes left in the second half, Clement drained a deep three to put the Wolverines up 38-36. Michigan never relinquished its lead.

Instead of struggling under the pressure of an emotionally tense game, the Wolverines proved, as they did against Kentucky on Dec. 8, that they could win in the clutch.

Cooper, who executed a textbook spin move for a layup that forced Michigan State to call a timeout with 3:40 left, used that move to clinch the victory for the Wolverines.

Add on two free throws from Minnfield and a Benson 3-pointer, and Michigan extended its lead to 11.

Until Clement’s three midway through the second half, Michigan (3-2, 10-5) could not have started the second half worse. The Wolverines committed four turnovers and were ice-cold from the field in the first five minutes on their way to giving up their halftime lead.

“We had no energy,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “Michigan State had picked up the intensity. We just looked like we were physically exhausted and I figured, ‘Oh boy, here we go.’ “

Although Borseth said he didn’t know what got his team rolling in the second half, it was Michigan’s 3-point shooting (41-percent) that allowed the team to stay unbeaten at home this season.

When asked what the victory would do for the program, Borseth said the win will have repercussions, even though it’s just one game.

“It’s one game,” Borseth said. “It’s not a whole season. From the players’ standpoint, they understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel if they work hard. That’s probably the biggest thing for us.”

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