On Sunday, 4,123 fans filled Crisler Arena for the women’s basketball game between Michigan and Michigan State — the season’s largest attendance mark. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, many of those fans were sporting Spartan green — just another sign of how one-sided the rivalry has been.
With its 70-60 victory, No. 10 Michigan State extended its current win streak against Michigan to five and has taken seven of the last 10. The triumph also puts another tally in the overall win column, leaving the Spartans with a 46-14 all-time advantage.
Although Michigan State has dominated the Wolverines, the Spartans say they still get geared up when they see Michigan on the schedule — even when the game is sandwiched between games against powerhouses No. 11 Connecticut and No. 9 Ohio State, as it was this time around.
“It’s interesting to have a rivalry game after Connecticut because that’s kind of funny,” Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie said. “You’ve got all this energy going nine different ways, it was an interesting setup.”
As for Michigan, the games against Michigan State seem to bring out the best in the team. But even its best is not good enough. Last year, the Wolverines took a 17-point lead into halftime before eventually falling 59-54. And this year, Michigan was down by just one going into halftime against a Spartan squad that was 4-0 on the road, including two road wins against teams ranked in the top-10.
“When the crowd came in and was doing that green and white cheer, I loved that,” Michigan freshman Ta’Shia Walker said. “They got me really excited. I knew it was going to be a good one.
Injury woes: Michigan started the season with a small bench. It became even smaller over the break.
During the Wolverines’ loss to Western Michigan on Dec. 14, freshman forward Katie Dierdorf injured her left hip, placing her out indefinitely, and most likely for the remainder of the season.
Dierdorf emerged as a scoring threat during the team’s 79-62 loss to Eastern Michigan. After bucketing just 10 points total in her first six games, Dierdorf provided a much-needed inside presence in the game against the Eagles, scoring 11 points. This performance earned Dierdorf a starting role, and she did not disappoint. She put in 10 points against IUPUI and had eight in her 11 minutes versus the Broncos before the injury.
With freshman Ta’Shia Walker back in a starting spot after Dierdorf’s injury, the Wolverines’ bench looked very weak against Illinois and Michigan State. It scored just three points against Illinois and was held scoreless against the Spartans.
“We’ll really miss her,” Michigan coach Cheryl Burnett said of Dierdorf.
Notes: Michigan made just one of four free throws against Michigan State … The Wolverines forced just 11 turnovers, three fewer than any other game this season … Michigan grabbed 26 rebounds, its lowest total this year … Michigan senior Tabitha Pool committed seven turnovers, an individual season high for the team … Freshman Jessica Starling’s 15 points make her just the third Wolverine to lead the team in scoring this season, along with Walker and Pool.