EAST LANSING – The Wolverines have been banged up all season, but they’re closer to being healthy now than they’ve been in the last few weeks.
After missing all of last season due to a staph infection, fifth-year senior Raina Goodlow is nearly back to full strength. Goodlow averaged 5.7 points per game for the season before breaking out on Thursday night with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
“I’m definitely getting there,” Goodlow said. “I just have to work on my stamina. I’m still not 100 percent, but I’m getting there.”
During the first half against Michigan State, Goodlow was on fire from the right corner, connecting on all four of her jumpers from 15 feet. Michigan coach Sue Guevara expects Goodlow to continue to provide her team with a spark.
“Raina has come back with a hungriness, a sense of urgency,” Guevara said. “She wants to help this team accomplish more than last year’s did.”
Another Michigan starter recovering from injury is junior Jennifer Smith. Smith averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds over Michigan’s first four games before being sidelined with a knee injury for five contests. After re-entering the starting lineup on Jan. 5 vs. Illinois, Smith has led the Wolverines in scoring, averaging 12.4 points and is second in rebounding with 6.6 boards per game.
“She’s coming back,” Guevara said of Smith’s recovery. “I would say that today, we are closer to that post presence than we were three weeks ago.”
Down the stretch they come: During the final seven minutes of its loss to Michigan State on Thursday, Michigan failed to score while turning the ball over five times. The result was a two-point gap turning into a 17-point canyon as the Wolverines fell to the Spartans 73-56.
“The last six minutes we just couldn’t buy a basket,” Guevara said. “We just could not get any kind of penetration off our dribble drive, and then defensively we broke down.”
Michigan State senior Syretta Bromfield led the Spartans with a game-high 25 points, including three buckets during the Spartans game-ending 15-0 run.
Freshman Julie Bowen – a 47-percent shooter from behind the arc this season – was Michigan State’s marksman, hitting on all three of her attempts from downtown, including a shot-clock-beating heave in the first half from a foot inside of the Michigan bench.
White-out: The Breslin Center was rocking on Thursday night, with over 6,700 in attendance to watch the Spartan victory – the eighth-highest total in Michigan State women’s basketball history.
“The crowd was awesome,” Guevara said. “I thought it was definitely a sixth player. It was good basketball. The crowd was into it, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
“(The attendance) was 6,000, but it sounded a lot more like 10,000 to be honest with you,” Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie said.