POSTGAME: Suzy Merchant on her team’s home-court advantage: “I certainly think it made a huge difference for us.”
Michigan State 63, Duke 49, FINAL: The last shot of Chante Black’s illustrious career at Duke was a 3 that didn’t hit the rim. What a sad way to go out. Michigan State fans are storming the court right now– a home victory on a “neutral” site. Back with stats and quotes later.
Michigan State 61, Duke 49, :28.9: It’s over. Thomas airballed a 3, then Waner fouled Kalisha Keane, who hit both free throws. Jefferson just fired up the crowd in front of press row, a look of pure joy on her face. Meanwhile the scene on the Duke bench is heartbreaking.
Michigan State 59, Duke 49, :42.6: Duke’s fouling. After an errant Waner 3, Thomas fouled Johnson, who hit 1-of-2.
Michigan State 58, Duke 49, :59.8: Jasmine Thomas put up two straight NBA-range 3′s that looked very much like desperation shots to me. Timeout Duke.
Michigan State 55, Duke 47, 1:43: Unbelievable. Aitch, underneath the basket, managed to hit a shot for the Spartans, despite being fouled by Cheek. That put Michigan State up by four. Then, Johnson hit back-to-back shots, both runners that easily got through the Duke press defense, to put the Spartans up by eight. Breslin Arena is the loudest its been all night. It looks very bad for the Blue Devils right now.
Michigan State 49, Duke 47, 3:43: Its getting very intense here. Three offensive rebounds in a row had Suzy Merchant screaming for an offensive foul, while McCallie screamed equally loud that it wasn’t. Big shot by Aitch to put the Spartans up two at the end of the series.
Its good to see that the NCAA hasn’t let crass commercialism seep into their original goal of helping the student athlete– I was just told to throw away my water bottle, or put it in a Vitaminwater cup.
Michigan State 47, Duke 46, 5:36: It hasn’t really been DeHaan that’s stopped Black– it’s been Johnson and Jefferson. They’re shorter than Black, but have been much more physical. They’ve also been very good at clogging up passing lanes, making it difficult to get the ball to Chante.
Duke 46, Michigan State 46, 7:05: Cheek has the last two baskets for Duke, the last one coming off a great pass by, you guessed it, Karima Christmas. The Blue Devils are now pressing on defense for one of the first times in the game. Its strange they haven’t really utilized their most vaunted part of their defense until now. We’ll see how they defend the Spartan attack for the rest of the game.
Duke 42, Michigan State 42, 9:30: Christmas has seven of Duke’s last eight– she’s playing excellent. Also, they just showed the highlights from the Blue Devils’ loss to Maryland in the ACC Championship game, and, of course, the fans went wild. In the words of my counterpart Kevin Fishner who is sitting beside me, “Why..in the world…would they show that?”
Michigan State 40, Duke 38, 11:30: Christmas is the ultimate “glue” player on this team– she gets rebounds, she plays great defense, and she hits very timely shots. Exhibit A: a 3-pointer at 13:38 to put the game at 38-36. Michigan State still has the lead, but if more Blue Devils play like Christmas, Duke can get back in the lead.
Michigan State 36, Duke 33, 15:02: Wow, what a 5 minute stretch. After the break, Black hit a layup to cut the Spartan lead to three. Then, Gay stole the ball, and Waner hit a huge 3-pointer to tie the game. The two teams have been trading baskets since then (one notable bucket being a sweet reverse layup from Jasmine Thomas at 15:39- she has 12 points). Aitch just retook the lead for Michigan State with a layup.
Probably should mention this: Black has three fouls. She’s sitting on the bench, and probably won’t come back in for a while.