MSU Women Lose Thomas, Beat Ohio State

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Without a key starter and with a score to settle, Alyssa DeHaan and Lykendra Johnson stepped up in their biggest game of the season.
DeHaan scored 16 points and Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds to help Michigan State beat No. 14 Ohio State 52-46 and draw within a half-game of the Big Ten lead Sunday.
"It's a great feeling and we're going to carry this with us to next Thursday," DeHaan said of another payback opportunity at Indiana. "We knew we couldn't get too emotional today. The key was keeping our composure."
The 6-foot-9 DeHaan was 6-for-8 from the field and had the only two 3-point baskets for the Spartans (17-7, 10-3 Big Ten). The 6-foot-1 Johnson was 6-for-9 from the floor and was a force on the boards.
"My uncle, Russell Cross, played center at Purdue and he always told me, `Go for the ball. Go for the ball,"' Johnson said. "That's what I did and everyone else did their part."
Jantel Lavender had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (19-4, 10-2). But her team shot just 31 percent from the field in the second half and never led in the game.
"We didn't do a good job of reversing the ball at the start of the game," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. "They did what they needed to do on offense and defense."
It was a totally different game from the teams' first matchup on Jan. 4, when the Buckeyes grabbed a 35-10 lead and won 67-49 in Columbus.
"What happened in Columbus was a big learning experience for us," DeHaan said. "We got embarrassed and used that as a motivator."
Backed by a crowd of more than 10,400, Michigan State came out strong and led 29-25 in the first half. The Spartans pounded the ball inside to DeHaan and Johnson, who combined for 18 points against shorter defenders.
Johnson had 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds before the break. DeHaan had eight points in the first 20 minutes and didn't miss a shot.
"I thought we had a solid game plan," Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. "We had to make some adjustments, but I was very pleased with the way we played in the post."
The Spartans took a 32-27 lead when DeHaan hit her team's first 3-point basket with 17:25 left. But Ohio State began to turn up the defensive pressure on a team that had 12 turnovers in the first half.
The Spartans were without starting point guard Brittney Thomas, who was sidelined for the season with a torn ACL suffered Friday while shooting on her own.
"When that happened, we certainly had some reservations, especially the way they pressure on defense," Merchant said. "Our kids thought they'd find a way to make it happen. We did that by committee with one day to prepare."
After going more than 4 minutes without a point, Michigan State built a 49-44 lead with 3:20 left. Despite giving the Buckeyes plenty of chances with 20 turnovers, the Spartans played just enough defense to pull off the upset.


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