Michigan State tops top-seeded Duke and former coach
Published 11:02 am Wednesday, March 25, 2009
By By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State fans came to boo their former coach.
They left cheering for the Spartans.
Mia Johnson scored 17 points and Lauren Aitch had 15, lifting ninth-seeded Michigan State to a 63-49 win Tuesday night over the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils and former coach Joanne P. McCallie in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Duke didn’t make a shot for the last 7 1/2 minutes as it was outscored 16-2, leading to students rushing the court to celebrate.
In more than a decade, the only top-seeded team to lose in the second round was Ohio State in 2006 setback against eighth-seeded Boston College.
Michigan State (22-10) will face the winner of the Iowa State-Ball State game on Saturday in the semifinals of the Berkeley Regional.
Jasmine Thomas had 14 points for Duke (27-6) and leading scorer Chante Black was held to just four.
The Blue Devils, who scored at least 75 points in each of their last six games, were held to a season-low total and made just 27 percent of their shots.
Raucous fans and flying elbows might’ve rattled them.
The game was so physical there were sequences in the lane that looked like an NHL goal-mouth scramble.
McCallie was booed — again — when she was introduced and she simply smiled as she shook the hand of her successor, Suzy Merchant, and shared a laugh with her coaching staff.
Coach P knew how loud it could get in the Breslin Center because she coached there for seven seasons before bolting two years and her team found out Tuesday night.
Duke insisted it wasn’t unfair, as a top-seeded team, to play on Michigan State’s home court. But it certainly seemed to give the Spartans a lift to have most of the lower level in their arena filled and to rattle Duke.
Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and some of his players even took time away from preparing for their third-round matchup with Kansas to watch the game.
Izzo stayed for the whole game, cheering from a suite, and his players were on their feet on a baseline as were 5,000-plus fans in the stands.
The Spartans, though, looked like they were going to be in trouble early in the game.
They turned the ball over on their first possession and then gave up a 3-pointer to Abby Waner, who returned to the lineup after resting her sprained knee during the first-round rout of Austin Peay.
But the Blue Devils went scoreless for 4 minutes after Waner’s shot and were plagued by turnovers.
Duke had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (five) when Michigan State led by six after surging ahead with a 14-4 run.
Michigan State led 25-20 at halftime after the Blue Devils made just 27 percent of their shots, leading to their second-lowest total in a first half this season.
Duke was determined to turn things around early in the second half led by Black, who scored on an aggressive move in the lane on the opening possession to match the two points she had in the first half.
Then, Black caused a turnover and assisted on Waner’s 3-pointer that tied the game 34 seconds after halftime and helped the Blue Devils go back ahead for the first time since the 12:00 mark of the first half.
Michigan State, though, proved it could take Duke’s best shot by competing the rest of the way in the closely contested game.