The Michigan women’s basketball team trailed for most of its game against Michigan State yesterday after giving up its two-point lead on the Spartans just two minutes into the game. That’s when the “Go Green, Go White” cheer resonating from the stands at Crisler Arena became a hazard for the Wolverines.
Despite the home-court advantage, Michigan State’s contingent was large, almost outnumbering the Wolverines.
When Michigan fans shouted the customary chant “air ball,” Spartan fans were sure to follow suit, and much louder when the Wolverines missed. And what serves as the student section during the men’s basketball games at Crisler was nearly three-quarters green last night. The green-clad fans even remembered pom-poms.
“We had a huge green support in the crowd,” Michigan State senior Allyssa DeHaan said. “It’s always ruthless down here. We love our support and get it wherever we go.”
While the pace of the game and the effort put forth by the Wolverines can’t be compared to the lackluster crowd spirit, that’s not to say the atmosphere inside Crisler last night wasn’t a factor in the Spartan’s five-point victory.
In fact, halfway into the second half when Michigan State had obviously stolen the momentum and was up by 14, a gutsy Spartan fan took it upon himself to stand front and center in the student section that looked like a sea of green to unify fans all around him.
“One thing I’ll tell you is I felt like when we would get loud, it did force the Michigan fans to try to get louder,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “They were competing against each other too, so it made for a pretty good atmosphere here.”
And then with a little more than one minute remaining, the Spartans turned over the ball and senior center Krista Phillips threw a half-court pass to junior guard Veronica Hicks who made the layup despite the Spartan-led commotion.
“I just want to win and nobody in the crowd can jump on the court and stop me,” Hicks said.
When Hicks was preparing to shoot a free throw, the only noise in Crisler came from the hecklers from East Lansing. But she didn’t lose focus despite the distractions in her home arena.
But then Hollins made a shot and was fouled. If she had made the foul shot, Hollins would have brought the Wolverines within two points with 15 seconds remaining. Every Michigan fan was in their seat. Every Michigan State fan on their feet yelling and screaming to distract Hollins – and she missed the shot.
When all was set and done, the missed shot didn’t mean anything but the impact from the opposing crowd was felt throughout every inch of Crisler Arena.