[media-credit name=’AJ MACLEAN/Herald Photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′][/media-credit]A season-high attendance mark and sea of white towels wasn’t enough for Wisconsin to record its third-straight victory, as the Badgers dropped their matchup against No. 9 Michigan State Sunday at the Kohl Center. The 84-60 decision gave the Spartans (22-3, 11-2) a season sweep of the Badgers (10-12, 4-8 Big Ten) for the third-straight year.
“It was just a hard-fought game,” Michigan State head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Wisconsin is just a scrappy, good, solid team and never quits.”
Wisconsin entered the second half with a 17-point deficit, but guard Stephanie Rich opened the half with a 3-point bucket to give the Badgers a lift coming out of halftime. Michigan State quickly answered with a 3-pointer of its own from guard Lindsay Bowen and a bucket from forward Liz Shimek, to extend the lead to 19.
The teams exchanged the next four baskets before Wisconsin made a move. With 16:54 left in the first half, the Badgers, spurred by junior Kjersten Bakke, went on an 8-0 run to cut the Spartan lead to 11.
But the Badgers would get no closer for the rest of the game. After Bakke hit a jumper in the lane to cap the run, Michigan State’s Lindsay Bowen took over. Bowen hit a deep 3-ball from the wing, and on the ensuing possession, nailed another 3-pointer from the far corner to regain the Spartans’ 17-point advantage.
“Bowen went on a 6-0 run by herself,” Rich said. “That was the dagger. We were starting to make that push, and Lindsay knocks down those tough shots.”
Bowen’s pair of threes sparked a 13-2 Spartan surge allowing them to take their largest advantage of the game, 71-43, on a 3-pointer from Rene Haynes.
Wisconsin clawed back, answering with a 7-0 run of its own capped by a half-court pass from Rich to guard Jolene Anderson for a lay-up. Unfortunately for the Badgers, it was too little too late. Wisconsin was unable to get any closer than 20 points down before falling 84-60.
“We did what we wanted to do with the post game inside, but the long story short, they made some tough shots,” Wisconsin head coach Lisa Stone said. “Too many open looks for (Lindsay) Bowen outside.”
Bowen would finish the game 6-for-17, including 5-for-11 from behind the arc, for a Spartan-leading 18 points, despite only compiling six points at halftime.
Michigan State took the lead out of the gates, starting the game with a 9-2 run. Wisconsin answered with a three from Anderson and bucket from Ebba Gebisa to get within two, at 9-7.
That’s when Michigan State’s Victoria Lucas-Perry took over.
After a jumper from Shimek gave the Spartans a four-point lead, Lucas-Perry drove the lane for a layup and was fouled by Janese Banks. Just seconds after Lucas-Perry completed the 3-point play, the sophomore guard sprinted to another layup on a pass from Kristin Haynie after a frustrated Banks turned the ball over at halfcourt. The layup gave the Spartans a nine-point advantage.
Lucas-Perry would nail two 3-pointers and shoot a perfect 5-for-5 from the charity stripe on her way to 17 first-half points, tops for either squad.
“I just try to be aggressive all the time,” Lucas-Perry said.
The Badgers had brought the lead back down to four when Michigan State’s second-leading scorer, center Kelli Roehrig, left the game less than eight minutes in, after picking up her second foul. Despite missing its powerful inside presence, the high-powered Spartan offense kept rolling.
Relying on its 47 percent first-half shooting and a plus-10 rebounding advantage, Michigan State gouged the Badger defense eventually taking their 17-point lead into halftime.
Four Spartans posted double-digit scoring totals in the win. Lucas-Perry had 17 points, all in the first half. Shimek scored 13, and Haynes dropped 12 points to go along with Bowen’s 18. Roehrig and Haynie each chipped in eight apiece.
With her 13-point performance, Shimek became the fourth Spartan this year, and 13th in school history, to reach the 1,000 point plateau.
But while Michigan State torched the Badger defense, its own smothering defense shut down Wisconsin’s scorers. Stone’s squad finished the first half shooting an abysmal 30 percent from the field and shot only 34 percent for the game including an anemic 3-for-20 from behind the 3-point line.
Anderson led all Badgers with 19 points, while Bakke and Gebisa each added eight points apiece. Annie Nelson grabbed eight boards as the Badgers overcame their early rebounding struggles to lose the rebounding battle by only one, 42-41.
“I said after the Minnesota game that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get beat,” Stone said. “Unfortunately, we got beat today.”