No. 9 Michigan St. 63, No. 16 Iowa 60

By the time Kalisha Keane caught the ball in the corner, she had
only one option: shoot.

That was Michigan State’s plan all along.

Keane’s 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining gave the
ninth-ranked Spartans a 63-60 win over 16th-ranked Iowa on Thursday
night. Michigan State had blown an eight-point lead in the span of
about a minute, but the Spartans executed their final play
perfectly, setting up their leading scorer for the winning
shot.

”Sitting in the timeout, I said, ‘It’s going to come to me,
I’ve got to knock it down,”’ Keane said.

Iowa (14-4, 2-3 Big Ten) had scored eight straight points to tie
the game at 60 on a 3-pointer by Kamille Wahlin with 13.3 seconds
to play, but the Spartans still had a chance to avoid overtime.
Their final play was slow to develop, but Keane finally came off a
screen by Lykendra Johnson, took a pass from Brittney Thomas and
made a shot from in front of the Michigan State bench to give the
Spartans their 14th straight victory.

Coach Suzy Merchant said that’s how it was drawn up.

”She was deeper than what I anticipated her being, in the
corner,” Merchant said. ”I didn’t want her to have the ball in
her hands and get a situation where they were going to call a
charge, or where she had to create with the ball. As good as she is
at that, I just felt like we needed to get her open for a standup
shot.”

Michigan State (16-1, 4-0) is off to the program’s best start
and hasn’t lost since a 26-point defeat against Baylor in
November.

Keane finished with 16 points.

Jaime Printy scored 23 points for Iowa but was held to five in
the second half.

”They played me a little tighter, but that happens,” Printy
said. ”We were still able to work the ball to some other
people.”

The Spartans led 50-48 before going on a 7-0 run that appeared
decisive at the time. Keane capped the run with a shot from near
the top of the key that put Michigan State ahead by nine.

Iowa cut the deficit to five and had the ball, but Morgan
Johnson traveled with 2:25 to play, and Lykendra Johnson’s
three-point play at the other end made it 60-52.

Kelly Krei made a 3-pointer for the Hawkeyes, and Kachine
Alexander added two free throws with 30.9 seconds to play to pull
Iowa within three.

Thomas then missed the front end of a 1-and-1, giving the
Hawkeyes a chance to tie, and Wahlin banked in a 3-pointer from a
severe angle on the left wing.

Wahlin finished with 17 points. Lykendra Johnson had 11 points
and nine rebounds for the Spartans – all of her rebounds came in
the second half after she picked up two fouls in the first.

Michigan State adjusted its defense inside to provide less space
for Printy on the perimeter. That left Lykendra Johnson with a big
challenge trying to contain the 6-foot-5 Morgan Johnson.

”I’ve been trying to stay out of foul trouble, but in the
second half, coach said, ‘Stay behind her and make her prove
herself,” Lykendra Johnson said.

Morgan Johnson finished with only six points, and Printy went
scoreless for the last 15 minutes.

Both teams shot 40 percent from the field, but Michigan State
had 17 more attempts. The Spartans finished with 15 offensive
rebounds and forced 17 turnovers.

”Any time you’re going to give somebody 17 extra shots, it’s
pretty hard to win a game,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ”It’s
hard to believe that it was that close.”

Printy scored 18 points during a first half of runs. The
Spartans scored 10 straight points to lead 19-12 before Iowa went
on a 14-2 run. Michigan State answered that with nine points in a
row and led 30-28 at halftime.

Michigan State led 42-36 in the second half, but Wahlin finally
provided some help for Printy. She scored Iowa’s next eight points,
including a desperation 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock and
another 3-pointer that tied the game at 44.