Defense deserts in loss to Mich. State

The Spartans beat the Gophers 62-49 Sunday in East Lansing, Mich.

by David McCoy

Riding on the horse it calls defensive intensity, Minnesota’s women’s basketball team came into East Lansing, Mich., having allowed fewer than 38 points to ranked opponents in the previous two games.

The 11th-ranked Minnesota team had demolished then-No. 23 New Mexico 75-35 and followed it up with a 58-38 blowout of No. 20 Purdue.

But Sunday, No. 9 Michigan State scored 39 points in the second half alone to shoot down Minnesota 62-49 and hand the team its first conference loss of the season.

“It was everything that we did to ourselves,” coach Pam Borton said. “When we did score more points (in the second half), we still gave up more. We gave up defensively.”

The Spartans (15-2, 4-1) used Minnesota’s favorite weapon – defense – to slow the Gophers and hold them to their lowest point total of the season.

It is also the most points Minnesota (14-3, 4-1) has allowed in seven games, dating back to its 75-67 loss to then-No. 1 Louisiana State.

Although Minnesota shot an especially poor 27.6 percent in the first half, the score was just 23-21 at intermission.

In the first half, all eight of the Gophers’ baskets came off assists.

“That was big,” senior Janel McCarville said. “That’s what we have to do; we have to spread them out.”

But in the second half, Michigan State did some spreading out themselves, with three players finishing in double figures.

The Spartans opened the half on an 8-2 run to lead 31-23 and never looked back, extending it as far as 18 points.

Lindsay Bowen led the Spartans with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field.

Bowen hit back-to-back three-pointers in the second half to give Michigan State a 40-28 lead.

But it was the play of Rene Haynes, who scored 17 points off the bench, which gave the Spartans what they needed to finish off the Gophers.

“She was the difference in the game,” Borton said.

McCarville was her usual solid self, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds for her 41st career double-double.

McCarville added a game-high four steals and four blocks as well on the defensive end.

But McCarville’s defensive effort wasn’t enough to slow down the Spartans.

“Everyone has to step up their communication,” McCarville said. “It was the difference between the first and second half.”