What a great day to be a Spartan. Shortly after the men reached the Final Four on Sunday with a dramatic double-overtime victory over Kentucky, Kristin Haynie had a triple-double and led Michigan State's women past Vanderbilt 76-64 in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional.
Haynie, a 5-foot-8 senior guard, had just two points in the
first half that was mostly dominated by the Commodores. But she
finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the second
triple-double in the program's 32-year history.
The top-seeded Spartans (31-3), who never even reached the round
of 16 in five previous tournaments, scored 18 of the first 21
points of the second half. They are now a win away from the women's
Liz Shimek, their top scorer who was held without a point in the
first half, got the blitz started with a layup. Lindsay Bowen then
followed with a long 3-pointer.
Rene Haynes stole a pass and drove in for a bucket, and the
stunned Commodores (24-8), who led 37-30 at the break, could not
regroup until the Michigan State lead reached 57-44 on Laura Hall's
second straight basket.
In the regional final on Tuesday night, the Spartans will meet
either Stanford or three-time defending national champion
Connecticut, who played later Sunday night.
Dee Davis finally stopped the Michigan State surge when she hit
a 3 for Vanderbilt with 9:40 left. But the Spartans made 18 of 29
second-half shots, and the closest the Commodores came until the
final minute was 61-55 when Ashley Earley sank two free throws at
Haynie quickly got the lead back into double figures with a
6-footer that made it 69-58.
Carla Thomas, Vanderbilt's 6-foot-3 power forward, had 16 points
in the first half but only six in the second. Her reverse layup got
the Commodores to 69-64 with 39.5 seconds left but Michigan State
scored the final seven points en route to its school-record 15th
Thomas, who usually works inside with Earley, popped in a
succession of 12 and 15-footers to help the fifth-seeded Commodores
get off to a surprisingly fast start. Vanderbilt led by as many as
10 in the first half as Liz Shimek, the Spartans' 6-foot-2 junior
who scored 32 points in opening-round games over Alcorn State and
Southern Cal, went scoreless.
Vanderbilt's Abi Ramsey, who broke three school records for
3-point shooting this season, was 2-for-3 from beyond the arc in
the first half but 0-for-3 in the second.
With their usual balanced attack, Kelli Roehrig had 18 points
for the Spartans while Lindsay Bowen had 14, and Haynes 12.
Thomas had 22 for Vanderbilt and Earley added 15.
Haynes sparked the Spartans' 13-5 run late in the first half,
erasing all but two points of a 10-point deficit. Thomas then
drained a pair of free throws, Dee Davis hit an uncontested 3, and
Ramsey, taking a great pass from Thomas, got a layup to get the
lead back to 32-25.