Michigan State struggled on both sides of ball
INDIANAPOLIS -- Michigan State advanced to its first championship game with a balanced team, getting contributions from up and down the lineup.
But with an NCAA title on the line, the Spartans became a two-woman show offensively and it wasn't enough.
"I think that was a big factor," center Kelli Roehrig said.
For the first time in the women's tournament, Michigan State didn't have four double-figure scorers and struggled to stop a trio of Baylor players in an 84-62 loss Tuesday night.
Michigan State guards Lindsay Bowen scored 20 and Kristin Haynie had 17, but they didn't get much help.
Leading scorer Liz Shimek finished with seven points -- well below her average of 15 -- and had only two points in the first 30 minutes of the game. She did, however, tie the school's single-season scoring record of 546 points.
Roehrig, third on the team in scoring, had just eight points.
"Kristin and Lindsay held their own," she said. "In the post area, we didn't really hold our own."
Victoria Lucas-Perry and Rene Haynes, who had averaged a combined 15 points a game, were scoreless until midway through the second half. They finished with eight total points.
The Lady Bears made it tough to score on every possession.
They extended their defense deep on the perimeter; when Michigan State tried to score inside, it often turned into a defender or two on low-post moves.
Meanwhile, Baylor's Sophia Young, Steffanie Blackmon and Emily Niemann combined for 67 points -- more than the Spartans' entire team.
"We didn't have anybody go off and we shouldn't pretend that we did," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "They had three players that were very, very impressive. Our defense did not do enough."
Michigan State (33-4) will eventually look back on its season with pride.
The Spartans started the season ranked 15th before winning a share of the Big Ten title and being regarded as one of the nation's best with a program-record 17-game winning streak that ended in the final.
The top-seeded squad had not advanced past the second round in five previous NCAA Tournaments.
"This loss is going to hurt," Haynie said. "But looking back on our season, we did some great things for the program."
Michigan State rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to beat traditional power Tennessee in the Final Four on Sunday but could not mount a comeback against the Lady Bears. The Spartans fell behind early, were down 12 at halftime and trailed by 20 midway through the second half.
"I reminded them that Tennessee had a 16-point lead," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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